Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Brides of Simpson Creek

by Anita Mae Draper

Mail order grooms?

I want to bring your attention to The Brides of Simpson Creek series created by Laurie Kingery and published by Love Inspired Historical. Laurie has taken the mail order bride plot and flipped it upside down to create a series based on mail order grooms.

This series fascinated me from the moment I heard about it. I mean, we’re all familiar with the destitute or despairing mail order brides who choose to start a new life with a stranger in order to escape their old one. Let’s face it, in the 19th century, there wasn’t much for a woman to choose from if she didn’t have money to do what she wanted.

But why on earth would a man choose to be a mail order groom?

Laurie’s reasoning in the Brides of Simpson Creek is sound and believable. It’s 1865 Texas and the war is over. So many men and boys were lost in the fighting with some towns hit hard than the rest. So it is the case in Simpson Creek. Men are in short supply and almost a dozen young women of marrying age want a family of their own. Without the men, the town won’t survive. When one enterprising young lady suggests they place an ad for husbands, the idea doesn’t set well with everyone, but the ones looking to get married are all for it. And so The Simpson Creek Society for the Promotion of Marriage aka The Spinster’s Club is born. An ad is submitted to the Houston Telegraph with explicit instructions for marriage-minded bachelors to write back and wait for an invitation before appearing in town. With business taken care of, the ladies start checking the post office. It would be nice if men did what they were told, right?

Book 1 – Mail Order Cowboy

Milly Matthews and her sister, Sarah, are trying to protect their ranch from Indians, rustlers and unruly neighbors. Milly is also the one who thought up the Spinster’s Club. She wants a man she can love and trust to help her run the ranch. And she’s adamant that men who reply to the ad should follow the rules and not just show up in town without an invite.

British Cavalry officer, Nicholas Brookfield isn’t really interested in finding a wife and settling down in Simpson Creek. He’s on his way to a job at the British Embassy, but after reading the ad where ladies were looking for husbands, he just has to come take a look – without writing of his intentions. He just shows up in the middle of a Spinster Club meeting and once he sees Milly, he's a goner. 

Brave, spunky heroine vs dashing, protective hero. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Foreshadow: Throughout this book, Milly’s sister, Sarah had one crippling fear – that one of the marriage-minded bachelors would be a Yankee and try to hide it. By the time I finished Mail Order Cowboy and was ready for Book 2, I was yearning for the heroine to be Sarah and the man who comes calling to be a Yankee. Laurie did not disappoint me.

Book 2: The Doctor Takes a Wife

Sarah Matthews takes over the running of the Spinster Club when Milly marries. Sarah is still mourning her fiancé who never returned from the war – most likely shot by a Yankee. She loathes Yankees. When a badly-needed doctor answers the ad, Sarah takes on the task of corresponding with him. During their correspondence, Sarah’s interest is sparked. Her attraction intensifies the first time she sets eyes on Nolan – until he opens his mouth and his words have a flat, nasal accent! Betrayed by the lying Yankee, she passes him off to the Spinster's Club.

Dr. Nolan Walker is a widower who wore the blue during the war, but treated men of all colors. He wants to settle down where no one else cares either. Nolan doesn’t want to choose another member of the Club, he wants the woman he fell for through the letters, and he’ll wait until she’s ready to accept him. But will Nolan’s dream come true when Sarah’s prayers are answered and she has to choose?

Brave, misguided heroine vs honorable, lonely hero. This book sent me on a rollercoaster of emotions, but what I liked best was the snappy interplay between Sarah and Nolan.

Foreshadow: Sarah’s housemate is Prissy Gilmore, the new chairwoman of the Spinster’s Club. Sarah is hoping Prissy will meet someone this time. But in the background of this book is Caroline who lost her fiancé in Book 1 and feels her life is over. I really want to read Caroline’s story.

Book 3 The Sheriff’s Sweetheart

Prissy Gilmore, the mayor’s daughter, is easily attracted to handsome men so when she sets her cap for the new sheriff the minute she lays eyes on him, she has a hard time proving he’s really the one for her. But no man could be better for her than the honorable sheriff who only wants to take care of her and protect her town.

Sam Bishop and his dog are on the run and need a place to lay low. When Sam spots an ad for marriage-minded bachelors, he heads to Simpson Creek intent on finding a job and attracting a rich wife to cover his gambling problems. It’s his lucky day when he rides into town and within minutes of each other, gets a job as sheriff and meets the mayor’s attractive daughter. After awhile, Sam wishes he hadn’t lied about his credentials and wants to come clean with Prissy. But can he come clean with her and keep her love before his past catches up to him?

Devoted, impetuous heroine vs dishonest, loyal hero. At first, this hero made me mad. I understood why he did things, but that didn’t explain his continued dishonesty. Yet, Laurie took this ‘bad boy’ and turned him into a worthy hero.

Foreshadow: Caroline applies for the town's schoolmarm job. If she can’t have a family of her own, she’ll teach other people’s children. Oh Laurie – why haven’t you written a story for Caroline?

Guess what? I was over at Laurie’s website the other day and she has the 4th book in the Brides of Simpson Creek coming out in November and yes, the book is finally Caroline’s story. The Rancher’s Courtship has Caroline working as the town schoolteacher when her deceased fiancé’s brother, Jack, shows up with twin six-year-old girls and a herd of cattle. Jack is unaware of his brother’s demise and had planned to leave his daughters with the newlyweds while he finished his cattle drive. Oh, this sounds like another good one from Laurie Kingery although I’m not sure it classifies as a mail order groom story. Of course I’ll have to read it to be certain, though.

I sure hope Laurie will be at the ACFW conference in St Louis this coming week because I’d personally like to tell her how much I’m enjoying this series, as well as find out more about Book 5 scheduled for Jul 2012 according to her website.

Good twist on an old theme, Laurie. I'm enjoying this series immensely.

You can find out more about this Texas-born author at


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. She writes stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Anita Mae has semi-finaled in the Historical Romance category of the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest and finaled in the Inspirational category of the 2011 Daphne du Maurier, the 2011 Fool for Love, the 2011 Duel on the Delta and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence and other contests. You can find her at


  1. That's certainly an interesting twist, Anita. And it sparked an entire series. I like that. I've always liked books that have a unique twist. I've never read Laurie's books, but I'm intrigued so I'll definitely check into this series. Thanks for the great review.

  2. Oh, Anita, what a great endorsement of this series. I want to read these now!!!!

    Which just goes to show . . . passion is contagious.

  3. These books sound great. Loved the run down, Anita. Made me want to go out and find all four of them!

  4. Thank you ladies, I remember talking to Laurie about the series last year when she said she was looking for a new angle and decided to turn it around for variety.

    Laurie should know as she's the author of over a dozen books (16?) including Harlequin Historicals and others on the mainstream market under the name of Laurie Grant. Her website bio tells the story of how she switched from ABA to CBA markets.

    I think what I like best about Laurie's books is that she doesn't contain herself to current trends - like her bad boy hero who stays dishonest through a good portion of the book.

    I actually think this is strange that LIH would allow it because they explicitly say all bad behavior should happen before the book starts. However, I like to see the change from bad to good as it happens and not read about it all in backstory, you know?

    Anita Mae.

  5. Adorable premise :)

    Established authors can get away with all kinds of stuff that us peons can't.

  6. Thanks, Anita! I've read Mail Order Cowboy and enjoyed it a lot. I haven't read all the books in the series, however. I guess I'd better get my act together!

  7. You're right, Dina. It used to make me mad, but now it encourages me.

    Often, I'm stifled by what is or isn't allowed now, whereas it was before. Maybe trendy is a better word than allowed?

    But when I see someone like Laurie writing a fantastic book with human characters where I can see their arc developing, I know that someday, that ms I have on my shelf will be dusted off for publication, too. :)

  8. Susie, I really like Mail Order Cowboy - after all British cavalry officers are yummy - but I have to admit, that line near the end where Laurie is foreshadowing Book 2 is the most memorable in my mind... it's after Milly's sister, Sarah, goes to meet the Yankee doctor for the first time and Milly doesn't see them meet, but afterward, she finds Sarah, 'mad as a wet cat'.

    I love that line! The image is so right for the scene and explains so much of what's going on in Sarah's mind. That sealed it for me knowing I was going to thoroughly enjoy Book 2, which of course I did immensely. :)

  9. Anita, thanks so much for doing a blog on my series! What a lovely surprise after a day so busy I didn't get to go online till evening.

    Glad you liked "mad as a wet cat." There's a great book called THAT DOG WON'T HUNT, full of Texanisms like that. I believe I got that expressions there.

    I hope lots of Inkwell Inspirations' readers will enjoy the Brides of Simpson Creek series and my fellow Love Inspired authors' great books.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  10. Hey Laurie, there's a book of Texanisms? Now I like that. Thanks for the tip.

    Nice to see you here. :)

    Anita Mae.

  11. Oh, this series looks like so much fun!

    I think I have to add these to my TBR pile . . . if it doesn't make my foundation collapse. :D


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