Eric Johnson’s real mail order bride shows up later than expected, and she quickly learns he is already married. Now Allie Jones is stuck in a small Colorado town with no way to leave. She must either marry the only suitable bachelor or risk being sold to the saloon’s owner to be one of the soiled doves. Seeing she has no real choice, she agrees to marry the bachelor.
Rumored as being a monster by the people in town, Travis Martin is content to live alone, sheltered in the wooded area of the mountainside. The last thing he expects is a preacher when there’s a knock on the door. With great hesitation, he agrees to the marriage. He can’t confine such a beautiful young lady to the saloon, but he knows the marriage won’t be a happy one for her, not when she could have had someone so much better.
So the best thing he can do is keep his distance and leave her alone. She, however, can't help but be intrigued by her new husband. Is he the ugly beast the people in town claim, or is there something beautiful worth loving just beneath the surface?
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This book is the third in a series, but it could be read as a standalone. (I read this one first, before moving onto the other books.)
TRAAAVVVISSS! My heart. He is such a sweetie. He is a new book boyfriend for sure. What a cutie! Travis is a large man (over six feet tall) with scars, so he withdrew from society feeling as though people judged and feared him. Living at the edge of town, he takes solace in his solitude. He has no desire to be around other people. He doesn't even think he deserves a wife.
Allie arrives in town expecting to be the mail-order bride for the town doctor, Eric. Except he's already married. SHOCK! Now Allie's options are to either marry local recluse (Travis) who is the only single man left in town or become a fallen dove and work at the local saloon. Talk about two opposite options. WHAT? Allie cannot go back home because her family is already poor with too many mouths to feed. Marriage was (and still is) her only way out. Thank you historical sexism. Allie *needs* to get married. Eric's solution is to marry her off to Travis.
When it comes to awkward weddings, this one might win. Forget all those "speak now or forever hold your peace" story moments. Travis is so shy that he stands behind a closed door and says his vows through the door to the priest and Allie. Our hero and heroine don't actually come face-to-face with one another until about the forty-five percent mark (according to my Kindle). He marries her without saying anything to her except their vows. They then live on the land with one another without being with one another. Travis and Allie only spend the night together when a townswoman is forced to stay over at their home and Allie recommends they share the room so that the woman doesn't start gossiping about the pair. When the woman arrives on the property, Allie and Travis tend to her together. This is the first time they meet in person. Up until this point, Travis avoids Allie and lives out in the barn. After being made to feel inadequate (due to his scars), Travis truly believes that a beautiful woman like Allie (who is traditionally pretty, blonde hair, blue eyes, and "perfect skin" <- his words) deserves more than him. My reader heart broke for him.
Allie doesn't care about Travis's scars in the least. Travis takes care of her and provides her with food, a place to stay, and leaves notes for her. He respects her (even from afar). When the pair do come face-to-face, she doesn't even blink at his scars. I already liked Allie from her first-page introduction. She has a kind disposition and instantly went to work trying to fix up the house to show her appreciation towards Travis. When she made Travis feel whole, I loved her. Together these two were perfect.
I'm not usually the biggest fan of the mail-order bride trope (I've read quite a few of them so maybe I have high standards at this point), but this one had more than enough twists to keep me entertained. The unique characters, completely different opening of needing to marry the only bachelor left in town, and overall sweet tone made this a quick and fun romantic read. Two thumbs up.