Nellie by Cynthia Woolf
(Brides of San Francisco series)
Publisher & Release Date: Self-Published, November 9, 2014
Time and setting: 1865-1868, San Francisco
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 361 pages
Heat Level: 2 Flame
Rating: 4 Gold Crowns
Nellie Wallace is a young widow with two children. In post civil-war New York, the men are scarce and none want the burden of a wife with children. Her dead husband's family is wealthy and cruel. Desperate to escape their influence, and eager for a home, a husband, and a stable life for her children, Nellie decides to make a new life in San Francisco as a mail order bride.
Saloon owner Blake Malone is a bachelor and likes it that way. He worked hard for everything he has, but the San Francisco City Council won’t approve his plans to build a family emporium unless he is a family man himself. The solution? A mail order bride from New York who will bring him a ready-made family, stability, and the council's approval.
Blake expects his future wife to care for his home and, other than helping him impress the city council, to stay out of his business. He expects life as usual. What he gets is an unexpected desire to win Nellie's heart, a dangerous threat to his new bride, and a rich benefactor determined to steal his new family out from under him. Blake believed his battle for success a hard one. But he will discover that the battle to win Nellie's heart and keep his family safe is going to take everything he's got.
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I found Nellie by Cynthia Woolf, quite by accident when browsing Amazon for books that offered the audio narration for $1.99. The book description intrigued me since I usually enjoy mail-order bride stories. I'm very glad I found this book.
Nellie is a war widow, living on the charity from her late husband's parents. Tired of their controlling ways, she answers an ad for mail-order brides, willing to travel to San Francisco. When she is presented with a candidate looking for a bride, she gratefully accepts.
When she arrives in San Francisco and meets Blake Malone, a saloon owner, she is immediately smitten and agrees to marry him the next morning, deciding there was no reason to wait. While she soon finds out Blake is not only kind and considerate, he loves her children and accepts them as his own. Her heart aches for her husband's love, but he lets her know that he will never love her, even though he likes and respects her.
Can Nellie accept this loveless marriage? Will Blake realize that whether he wants it or not, his heart belongs to his wife?
Nellie's character is easy to like. Ms. Woolf made sure I connected with her from the very beginning. She is a fiercely protective mother and willing to sacrifice everything for her children. She has a kind and generous heart, which comes out over and over again in this story.
I fell in love with Blake's character quickly. He is so caring and loving toward Nellie and especially her daughter Violet. He shows a great deal of patience with her son as well. While he may make his money running a saloon and turns a blind eye to what the dance hall girls do on the side, he is still honest in all his business dealings. The fear he has of loving tore at my heart. I could feel his confusion and pain.
I listened to the audio and loved the narration. Lia Frederick does an incredible job with the male characters. She is able to make them sound very masculine, which is rare. She also gives each character a distinct voice, making it easy to become enmeshed in the story. I will definitely look for other books with her as the narrator!
If you are looking for a story that has a great romance, with a good deal of action and suspense, then you will want to read Nellie. This is the first in a series, and I can't wait to read the next book. Happy Reading!