Mail-Order Bride by Debbie Macomber (review)

One of a number of “classics” republished by Debbie Macomber Books, I ran across this short novel while browsing my library’s Overdrive catalog. I’d enjoyed reading my first Macomber a year or so ago and I do love a mail order bride story, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Caroline Myers is a nurse who was jilted by her fiancé and can’t seem to move forward. Enter her two well meaning great-aunts. Determined that their great-niece become a wife, they arrange for her to become a mail order bride and dupe her into taking a “vacation” to Alaska. She’s beyond tipsy when she arrives, thanks to the tea they sent with her, and doesn’t quite understand that the strange welcome ceremony at the remote Alaskan village is actually her wedding to the man she believes is her guide, Paul Trevor.

She is helpless and petulant, he is without empathy or appeal, and neither come across as all that bright. When a crisis comes to the village, Caroline is all in as a nurse and Paul shows some actual care for her, both of which are finally admirable actions, but all in all there is still something lacking – perhaps it is common sense. Truly, there is little to like about either of these main characters.

Now, while a reader can just go along for the ride and kill an hour or so with this bit of 80’s froth that had me remembering the time I threw a contemporary Harlequin across the room (though this is a superior story to that one, if memory serves). Had I known that this was originally published in 1987 as a Silhouette Romance, I might have approached and reacted to Mail-Order Bride differently as it is very much of it’s time. Had I read it in 1987, I likely would have enjoyed it a great deal (or at least more than the one I threw across the room sometime in the mid 80’s).

What I most enjoyed in reading it now was Caroline’s maiden great-aunts. Not for what they do to Caroline so much as who they are and who I am positive they were inspired by. Elderly sisters who tout their father’s “recipe,” indulging in at least a daily cup and using it to their well-meaning ends – Mabel and Ethel Myers are instantly recognizable as Macomber’s versions of Mamie and Emily Baldwin and are as much a highlight of this short book as the Baldwin sisters were on The Waltons.

So, if you are a fan of Debbie Macomber and are curious about her early books, you may enjoy Mail-Order Bride as an example of where she started. If you are a fan of 1980’s era Silhouette and Harlequin books, you may appreciate this example of a “contemporary” mail order bride story, and if you loved Mamie and Emily Baldwin then Mabel and Ethel’s antics will be a bit of a giggle. Whether I will delve into more of her classics has yet to be decided.

This review refers to an e-book read through my library’s Overdrive service. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book

This irresistible classic novel from Debbie Macomber puts a modern spin on an old-fashioned way of finding “the one.”

After Caroline Myers gets her heart broken, her beloved great-aunts send her on a spur-of-the-moment northern adventure, equipped with little more than a batch of their special spiked tea. But soon after hopping a plane to Gold River, Alaska, a still loopy Caroline takes part in an odd ceremony that ends with a kiss from her personal tour guide. The next thing she knows, she wakes up with a ring on her finger.

Paul Trevor has always wanted a family, but his long work hours and remote location make dating impossible, so he takes an unconventional first step: sending away for a wife. He falls hard for Caroline’s photograph and letter, but after the wedding, it’s clear they’ve both been duped by his new bride’s well-meaning aunts. Caroline’s afraid this trip has been a mistake. Now Paul just needs to convince her it’s the best mistake she’ll ever make.

Mail-Order Bride by Debbie Macomber (Debbie Macomber Classics) | Debbie Macomber Books, 2016 | ebook, 175 pages

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