"Outstanding" is an adjective that would accurately describe this endearing collection of Texas romances. Each and every story was well plotted, capitalized on extraordinary characterizations, and blended seamlessly among its counterparts, reading as if written by one author, rather than seven.
If I had to choose a favorite(and I would rather not), it would be Bowie and Elise; their rediscovery of each other, their sweet realization of true love, and their deep struggle to express it, was both heart breaking and heart warming. What a wonderful set of stories!
Imagine a huge ranch with enough land that the father can give out parcels to each of his seven sons. But there's a stipulation. Each son must find a wife and marry before a year is up. G.W. Hart, the father, does not tell them the doctor has given him a grim report, and he wants grandchildren.
First Comes Love by Gabrielle Meyer
Hays is the youngest son. All of his brothers have always done everything ahead of him. This time he is determined to be the first to wed. He tacks up wanted posters all over town seeking a wife. That's when he meets Emma, the pastor's daughter and new school teacher. They get off on the wrong foot but is there a love match to be found between the two? My take away from this story is that you can't be happy 24/7. The difficult, hard times are there to make a person stronger.
The Heart of Texas by Lorna Seilstad
The next to the youngest Hart son is a Texas Ranger, Chisholm. He and his partner Whit set out to try and catch cattle rustlers. He meets a feisty Mexican girl named Caro. She takes an immediate dislike to Chisholm, who reminds her of her father. He left Caro and her mother for duty and was killed. She hates the word duty, which Chisholm uses a lot. Caro later realizes that duty can mean love not abandonment. This story contains some of my favorite elements, mystery, suspense, danger, duty but most of all love. Will Chisholm change Caro's heart or lose his inheritance from his father.
The Truest Heart by Amanda Barratt
Annie with her nine year old son Robbie, returned to her hometown, and her father's house after being away many years. Her father is a bitter old man and constantly puts Annie down. Annie's husband from an arranged marriage was killed in the war. She comes back to take over the midwife job from Mrs. Miller, who is ready to retire. Annie carries much guilt from her marriage and believes she doesn't deserve happiness. Dr. Travis Hart still loves Annie after all these years and pursues her in spite of her resistance. It takes a tragedy to open Annie's eyes to God's love and forgiveness. The lesson: In spite of our pasts, God is ready to forgive if we'll only ask.
A Love Returned by Keli Gwyn
Houston Hart left Texas years ago for California to start up a hardware store during the gold rush. He proposed to Coralee Culpepper before he left but she turned him down. He never asked why she said no. She promised her mother before she died that she would be there for her father. He was already showing signs of illness. Now he is bedridden, unable to communicate and with a blank stare in his eyes. Houston comes back when he gets the letter from his father stating he had to get married or lose his share of the ranch. There are hurt feelings between Coralee and Houston but a series of events happen that will either drive them further apart or bring them together.
I fell in love with these two star crossed "lovers". And I realized that we never completely outgrow the desire to please our parents and have them be proud of us.
For Love or Money by Susan Page Davis
Crockett Hart comes across smoke as he's riding out on the ranch. When he checks it out he finds his neighbor's house on fire. He finds the daughter, Jane Haymaker, trying to keep the fire from spreading to the barn. I really sympathized with Jane. She had to keep their ranch going along with her younger brother Ben. Their mother had passed away and they were stuck with a lazy, drunken father that treated them like slaves. After the fire, neighbors came from all around to help. They brought food, clothes, and lumber to help them rebuild. This brought tears to Jane's eyes. Why would they be so kind and helpful when all their father ever caused was grief? Crockett finds himself drawn to Jane but is this the marriage match he's been looking for in order to claim his share of the ranch?
Mail Order Mayhem by Vicki McDonough
In desperation, Austin, the oldest of the Hart brothers, writes for a mail order bride. He doesn't want to lose his share of the ranch after his father's crazy stipulation. Imagine his surprise when the stagecoach door opens and out steps two women, not one, and they both are identical. His intended bride Jenny has no interest in him. She only agreed to marry him because they were losing their home. Her sister Rebekah insisted that was their only option. She had become engaged to a man back home but was not in love with him. Rebekah falls in love with Hartville, the people, and especially the family at the ranch. Jenny is forcing smiles and seems to have her mind elsewhere. With the marriage deadline looming ahead, what is Austin going to do? I especially loved the last two words in this novella. I smiled when I read them.
Love at Last by Erica Vetsch
Bowie Hart suffered some pretty severe wounds in the war that scarred not only his face but his inner being as well. He never forgot the pretty and sweet woman that nursed him all the time he was hospitalized. Being the only son not yet married, he went in search of her. Elise was terribly mistreated by her uncle and when Bowie rescued her and proposed, she excepted. Bowie has spent ten years feeling like a freak. Hiding out at the ranch and keeping to himself. Now he has a wife to think about but still holds back his affections. He thinks no one could possibly care about him.
I was really drawn to Bowie and felt his hurt and insecurities. Elise was trying so hard to draw him out of his shell but was failing miserably. How will these two ever be honest with each other and work on their marriage?
All of these stories made me love this Hart family. I felt almost like I was there watching everything unfold. The fantasy of all seven brothers finding wives and really being in love, all in a years time was so much fun. Not likely to happen in real life but wonderful to escape and read about for a while. I truly hope all these authors will consider writing more about the Hart family. I hated to finish the book. I will miss them!
I received this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise.
What a great collection of novellas with a wonderful prologue and epilogue written by Erica Vetsch that ties it all together. Erica also writes the concluding brother, Bowie, who is my favorite. Each author has their own style that is perfect for the brother they are writing about. I enjoyed each story and how it tied in to the previous one. Each one flowed into the other like ripples on the river. You will laugh and get teary eyed, cheer and say what were you thinking. Most important is the theme of faith that binds this family together in love. Thank you authors for such a well written, inspiring book.
I received a complimentary copy of this novel. The honest review and opinions are not required.
I am not normally a huge fan of novella collections but was pleasantly surprised. They are typically a selection of shorter books with the only common thread being the general theme. I realized as soon as I finished the first story in this collection and started the second that this was different. The prologue set the stage as George Washington (GW) Hart, father of seven sons and owner of the 7 Hearts Ranch, calls his sons together on New Years Day, 1874 and has his lawyer read a codicil of his will to them. The bottom line is that each son must find and marry a wife before the end of the year in order to receive his respective share of the inheritance. GW wants to see his sons enjoy their inheritance while he is still alive, but he also wants them married. The real kicker is that not a one of the sons has been looking for a wife nor do they have any immediate prospects in sight. They all had it so good on the 7 Hearts Ranch and stayed so busy that they simply had not taken time to woo and win a wife. But life was about to change. Each of the seven authors tells the story of a different brothers efforts to find a wife, but the stories all tie together and each builds on the story of the previous brother. The result is seven stories that come together almost like one continuous story. I loved the sense of family closeness, the faith that they shared, and how they supported each other and their neighbors. The book takes some interesting twists that liven things up for everyone. Lovers of good old-fashioned historical romance will not be disappointed. The authors have added in some suspense and action as well. One of the things I enjoyed most were the lessons to be learned from the characters. The authors of this collection understand that the value of the book is in helping their readers find hope, encouragement, and character-building values. I recommend this book for your reading pleasure. I received a complimentary copy from one of the authors. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I have done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
George Washington Hart, the family patriarch, is getting impatient waiting for his sons to find wives and settle down. He issues an ultimatum: marry by the end of the year or lose the land they were set to inherit. Let the fun begin!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about the seven Hart brothers set in 1874 Texas! All named after famous Texans, their unique personalities gave each story a distinct flavor of its own; from the charming Hays, the youngest brother and first to get married, to the oldest, steady responsible Austin. When they gathered together, they showed how a family can love and support each other, even with their differences. Each story built on the one before it, so the book flowed well and felt like a full length novel, complete with a satisfying wrap up at the end. Some action, danger, suspense and tender romances, plus a bit of faith, made this an outstanding set of novellas!
While all the characters were interesting, I have to say that my favorite one was Bowie, the wounded warrior with a kind heart underneath his stoic, rough appearance. Going after Elise, the only woman who treated him like she genuinely cared, rescuing her from her own bad situation, remembering her kindness to him after ten years, just melted my heart. Their journey from New York back to Texas was just the start of the long way to becoming a real couple, other than a paper marriage. A swoon-worthy ending to this one made it worth the wait!
Highly recommend this book to fans of historical romances with a little faith. 4.5 stars
(A book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)