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Reviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers' Favorite
After the death of her parents, twenty-eight-year-old Emily Darling finds herself working as a servant in her family home, thanks to her mean brother. While collecting the mail one morning, a letter arrives, and while she quickly surmises it isn't for her or her brother, her curiosity is piqued so she opens it. She learns it is from Daniel Saunders, a Wyoming rancher, who has sent a packet for his mail order bride to come west. Emily sees this as the perfect way to escape from her brother and start over. After all, anyone who is sending for a mail order bride can't be all the choosy, can he?
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!