Crocus Mountain Publishing, $3.99
Historical Romance, 2018
Freyda Hevre, our heroine, is only twenty-two but she’s a jaded widow when Linda Ford’s Second-Chance Bride opens. She followed her husband all the way from Norway to Dakota Territory to start a new life, but look where the poor dear is today. She is trying to keep it all together – her husband’s ranch, everything else – but right now the two horses she has left on her ranch keep running off to the ranch next to hers. Her neighbor, Ward Rollins, has his ranch guru act down pat, but the widower has no idea what to do with his two unruly brats. So, the two strike up a deal: he’ll handle the horses and the rest of the ranch work, she’ll handle his brats. I’m sure you can tell where this arrangement is going to head towards.
Linda Ford is a new author – she has quite a number of inspirational romances to her name, so do expect God to show up here. Like many inspirational romances, this one eventually boils down to the heroine using the power of both love and Jesus to break down the hero’s stubborn mule act to allow him to accept love and what not into his life again.
And that’s basically the issue with this story: Ward is the rear end of a donkey squared. His favorite response to every situation is to either say no, make a negative decision, or just walk away because he can’t muster up his rear end to do anything. He believes wholesale Freyda’s late husband’s claim that she is headstrong, and view this trait of hers as a negative one. He thinks that she’s foolish to try to run a ranch alone, but he can’t be bothered to help because, you know, he’s a big crybaby man whose heart will shatter if it even gets pricked a little, boo-hoo-hoo. He doesn’t want anyone’s help, but he can’t do anything about his children because he doesn’t know what to do with them. And on and on, he goes, to the point that Freyda is the one who has to initiate the bulk of their interactions. As you can guess, when he decides that he has feelings for Freyda, he doesn’t want to feel these emotions, he mustn’t show them, et cetera.
Thus, while I like Freyda because she really is as strong-minded and determined, I soon tire of Ward’s incessant emo antics. This guy screams high-maintenance: he’d probably go into a week-long sulk over the smallest things, and our poor heroine already has two rambunctious brats to raise. What does she see in him? I mean, given that this book is both about love as well as Jesus, the author doesn’t go into great lengths about the hero’s physique or his bedroom skills, so what is he good for, aside from sulking and whining? In the context of this story, Ward’s appeal honestly eludes me. Maybe Freyda just like having someone to mother over.
Second-Chance Bride is easy to read, fortunately, and while Ward is tedious, he doesn’t bleed dumb dumb or act like a cruel donkey towards anyone. Thing is, having to marry Ward seems like a rather excessive price to pay when all the heroine needs is a ranch hand.