Dearest Darling (novella) by Andrea Downing

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Stuck in a life of servitude to her penny-pinching brother, Emily Darling longs for a more exciting existence. When a packet with travel tickets, meant for one Ethel Darton, accidentally lands on her doormat, Emily sees a chance for escape. Having turned down the dreary suitors that have come her way, is it possible a new existence also offers a different kind of man?

Daniel Saunders has carved out a life for himself in Wyoming—a life missing one thing: a wife. Having scrimped and saved to bring his mail-order bride from New York, he is outraged to find in her stead a runaway fraud. Even worse, the impostor is the sister of his old enemy.

But people are not always as they seem, and sometimes the heart knows more than the head.

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Publisher and Release Date: Wild Rose Press, October 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: Wyoming, 1891
Genre: Historical Romance (novella)
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer rating: 4 Stars

Review by Vikki

As I have always enjoyed Mail-Order Bride stories, I was intrigued by the book blurb for Dearest Darling and could not wait to read it. I was not disappointed, although if I have a complaint, it’s that it’s a very short novella that left me wanting more. Nonetheless, it is a sweet love story filled with a lot of heart and plenty of humor.

I loved Daniel’s reaction when he finds out that Emily has taken the place of his mail-order bride. I could just see him stomping around, ready to shoot off his gun, madder than a rattle snake. Ms. Downing had me right there as if I were Emily watching him come unglued and swearing a blue streak.

Emily is wondering what she has gotten herself into. Daniel is dirty and needs a shave, plus he is mean-tempered, which doesn’t make the greatest of first impressions, to say the least. However, after he calms down, he treats Emily with the utmost respect and courtesy, showing her the honorable man he really is. This convinces her that Daniel is the man for her.

Daniel quickly finds out he cares for Emily, but since he feels committed to Ethel, the woman he originally sent for, he insists on sending Emily back, even if he has to sell some of his livestock to be able to afford to do so.
But soon, Emily’s enticing ways have him rethinking his decision, and long before he can come up with the funds to send her back east, he realizes he is in love with her.

Before Daniel has a chance to tell Emily of his change of heart, her brother shows up while he is gone on an errand and tells her a pack of lies. Emily leaves with her brother, broken-hearted andconvinced Daniel still loves Ethel.

When Daniel goes after her, can he convince her he has fallen in love with her and wants her to be his wife, or will Emily allow her conniving brother to keep them apart?

I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful story from the first page to the last word and read it in one sitting, flipping the pages on my Kindle as fast as possible. While it is quite short, it has great character development and a well thought out plot. The author brings to life the vivid landscape of the Rocky Mountains and the glorious skies above. The historical background for the story is detailed and obviously well-researched. If you like western historical romances with lots of heart, then this is one that you will definitely want to read.

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