A Match Made in Texas: A Novella Collection
Authors: Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Carol Cox, Mary Connealy
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Published: January 2014
Paperback/Kindle/ebook: 384 pages
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Reviewed by: Shanda
FTC FYI: Received a free digital review galley from NetGalley. Thank you to Bethany House for the opportunity to read and review A Match Made in Texas.
In Dry Gulch, Texas, 1893, a young woman with a tender heart that longs to help those in need takes it upon herself to meddle in the affairs of three acquaintances who are in dire straits. Wanting to stay anonymous, she relies on unusual methods to hire men and women of good character who she thinks can solve the problems facing her “targets.” How was she to know that her meddling would turn into a cupid’s arrow? And what will she do when her friends turn the tables on her with a matchmaking scheme of their own? Four novellas in one volume.
A Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Witemeyer
This story is one reason I am happy for the opportunity to review A Match Made in Texas. Having read the first two books in the Archer Brothers series (Short-Straw Bride and Stealing the Preacher), I was excited to read Neill’s story. He is the youngest of the Archer brothers, and it was fun to see him all grown up and making his way in the world. Clara’s story is a tragic one, but it is easy to respect her for the strength and courage she shows in the face of difficult circumstances.
Because I like the Archer brothers, I do wish this story was a full-length novel so I could spend more time with them, however A Cowboy Unmatched is a complete and satisfying romance. I look forward to future releases from Karen Witemeyer.
An Unforseen Match by Regina Jennings
Grace O’Malley was a schoolteacher until her fading sight kept her from doing her job. The school board has purchased a small, rundown homestead for her and she’s fed through the generosity of the residents of Dry Gulch. Her pride has definitely taken a hit, but she has little choice and almost no other option available to her. The homestead desperately needs work–repairs that she can’t see well enough to do–so when Clayton Weber answers a newspaper ad that she didn’t place, she accepts his help.
Clayton is grateful that Grace can’t see the mark left years ago by troublemakers who falsely accused him of being a horse thief. He only accepts the work in Dry Gulch to help pay for the horse he needs to run in the approaching land race. Clayton is reserved around others and does his best to keep his scar hidden from curious stares. He’s a bit gruff, but Grace accepts him in a way he hasn’t experienced since before he was attacked. He never expected to find a woman like Grace on the way to claim his dream–land of his own.
I really liked Grace. It’s heartbreaking to read of Grace’s sight slowly being taken from her, but she manages to keep her spirits up. It took a while for me to “get” Clayton, though, and I never quite loved his character. At times, their dialogue was confusing to me. For example, I expected Grace to be upset at something Clayton had said, but she laughed, and I read back over it wondering if I had missed a joke. I think perhaps there were some missing cues for the reader so they could better grasp the emotion of the exchange.
Their first kiss was great. No details, but the experience certainly grabs the reader. Grace’s reaction afterward was so honest, I couldn’t help but smile. The scene in the barn when Grace goes looking for Clayton was emotional and touching, as was the scene in the house after Grace woke up, certain her sight was completely gone. Overall, a nice romance that fans of Christian historical romances will enjoy.
No Match For Love by Carol Cox
After Lucy Benson’s father passes away, her life changes forever. Not only is she alone in the world, she has nothing left. Her father’s poor investments, discovered only after his death, mean that everything must be sold. Living on the charity of her friend’s parents, Lucy jumps at the chance to earn her own way as companion to an aging widow.
Only after arriving in North Fork, Texas, does Lucy learn that Martha Simms is not a frail old lady waiting out her remaining days, but a spirited and capable woman. Her nephew, however, is concerned for her mental state. Andrew Simms’ windmill business is bustling, and he can’t spend as much time on the ranch as he would like. When his aunt begins talking about strange things happening on the ranch, he wonders if she is becoming senile. He hires a companion for his aunt, never expecting someone like Lucy. After a rough start, Lucy and his aunt quickly become friends. But Andrew finds himself wanting to be more than Lucy’s friend…
I liked all three of the main characters: Lucy, Andrew, and Martha. Lucy’s father intended to marry her off to someone with money and station, so he insisted on having servants perform the domestic chores. She has little to no experience with cooking or cleaning, but is an eager and quick learner. Martha is spunky and direct, but is patient with Lucy and they soon enjoy each other’s company. The more time she spends with Martha, the more Lucy is convinced that she is of sound mind. But how can she convince Andrew that the strange events coinciding with each full moon are really happening?
There is a decent amount of suspense in the story due to the strange events on the ranch. There are also some sweet romantic moments between Lucy and Andrew that carry no pressure to jump into anything physical. The reader also gains insight into who is most likely playing matchmaker for the couples in each novella. There is a fast, intense climax that felt a teeny bit rushed, but in the end, it’s a nice clean romance with a dose of suspense for good measure.
Meeting Her Match by Mary Connealy
Hannah Taylor is both schoolmarm and mother to her younger siblings. She has resigned herself to becoming a spinster, despite being all of 22 years old. The only other single, church-going man in Dry Gulch is shy, awkward Marcus Whitfield. He is constantly avoiding her and has only spoken a handful of sentences to her over the last six years. He takes his coffee break about the same time as she leaves the school each day, and they walk the two-minute distance to the diner together, Hannah making all of the small talk. She doesn’t understand the depth of Mark’s feelings for her and he can’t find the words to tell her.
So he kisses her.
I can’t remember the last time I read a kiss with almost no detail that sizzled like that one. Very clean, but…wow. After this kiss, circumstances are such that, despite nothing unseemly happening, both fathers insist they wed. Though everyone knows Hannah’s reputation and they trust her, they also know how long Mark has loved her and turn that Sabbath afternoon into an impromptu wedding celebration. One of the best parts of this story is when Hannah and Mark talk in his parlor after the wedding celebration. I love the meeting of hearts that occurs there, the sincere communication between husband and wife.
I don’t think I’ve read anything by Mary Connealy before, but I am excited to seek out her novels. I have a feeling I’m going to like them very much.
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