In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman

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She has nowhere left to turn…

Jane Middlebourne needs a way out. In 1891, life in New York is unforgiving for a young woman with no prospects, especially when her family wants nothing to do with her. So when Jane discovers an ad for a mail-order bride needed in Bitter Springs, Wyoming, she responds with a hopeful heart.

He has everything to lose…

Rancher Morgan Longstreet is in want of a wife who will be his partner at Morning Star, someone who will work beside him and stand by him. His first impression of the fair and fragile Jane is that she is not that woman. But when she sets out to prove him wrong, the secrets he cannot share put into jeopardy every happiness they hope to find…

Publisher and Release Date: Berkley, May 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Wyoming, 1891
Genre: Western/Historical Romance
Heat Rating: 2
Reviewer Rating 4.5 stars

Review by Jill

For fans of historical western romances, or readers who enjoy Ellen O’Connell’s westerns, this book is a treat.

Jane Middlebourne is in need of a new life. Orphaned and brought up with her rich cousins in Manhattan, Jane has never been considered as part of their family. With better prospects elsewhere, she answers an advertisement for a mail-order bride.

Morgan Longstreet is in want of a wife. After corresponding with Jane, he sends her money for the train trip to Wyoming. Unfortunately, when Morgan lays eyes on the refined and delicately-built Jane, his plans for marriage take a dive. She’s not the sturdy woman he was led to believe she was, one who would be suitable for the harsh life of a rancher’s wife.

This is the third novel set in Bitter Springs, but can be read as a standalone. I know a number of readers were disappointed in the previous novel, True to the Law but In Want of a Wife returns to the high standards and great story-telling of the first book in the series, The Last Renegade.

Like most of Ms Goodman’s novels, this is a very character-driven romance. The first half is almost entirely focused on the characters and the budding romance between Morgan and Jane. The second half – while building on the romance and relationship – delivers some great action, and focuses on the unveiling of Morgan’s past, with that past now catching up with him.

Some previous characters make appearances, particularly the sheriff, Cobb Bridger and those two adorably annoying young boys, Finn and Rabbit, who have some great lines and scenes.

There are two relatively small problems, that didn’t really detract from the story, but think are still worth mentioning. Contractions. Or lack of them, in both the narrative and dialogue, give a sometimes stilted flow to both story and speech. This is more an editing issue that should have been picked up. The second issue is with some details of Morgan’s past with his stepmother (you’ll know when you read it) and I’m not sure why it was necessary or what it actually added to the story. It was certainly interesting and added dimension to his character, but not sure it really impacted his present life, or the plot.

But these minor issues aside, In Want of a Wife is an excellent western romance, and is highly recommended.

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