If you’re looking for wholesome, entertaining historical romance, there’s plenty to like in the Misleading Mail Orders series.
Each of these books by Zerry Greenwood follows women who, for one reason or another, pin their hopes on men of varying reliability. These elegent and gentle stories of love, fortune, and family are set against a backdrop of immense social change and hardship, civil war, and the quest for gold. Each book features a distinctive heroine and revolves around a small western town in Idaho.
Greenwood’s often headstrong, gutsy young women travel great distances to fulfill a marital promise and find both less and more: the first of these is Lavinia, who leaves her Southern home and a life of privilege, out of principle and in response to an advertisement for a mail-order bride. The novels delve into the inevitable scope for exploitation and deception when rough mining towns populous with ‘sweaty men’ and precious few women, each seeking domestic comforts.
To Current Occupant: In a scene worthy of classic trickery, our heroine becomes surrogate mother to a pair of scheming twin girls when mistaking their father, Cliff, for her absent fiancé. The girls set a frontier-era parent trap.
Undeliverable: Addressee Deceased: Fleeing ‘the coal dust of Scranton’ for dreams of wedded bliss, Mary Anne travels to Idaho, only to find her mature, unprepossessing husband-to-be not quite as advertised.
Unsolicited Mail: Betty’s tale begins with shades of Cyrano de Bergerac, though the deception’s subject proves a man who values truth over beauty: Betty’s father conducts a mail order courtship on her behalf. Of course, Betty’s intended doesn’t approve when he discovers the scheme – can love blossom in the face of moral outrage?
Porch Pirate: Rhiannon, who people assume is cursed, decamps for Idaho for a new start. Of course, little goes according to plan, in a double-cross plot worthy of the most lurid of soap operas, involving two husbands for the price of one.
Return to Sender follows the open-hearted, trusting Miriam as she struggles to shake off her con-artist godfather, a failed investment scheme and a self-indulgent hedonist in Idaho City.
Greenwood’s prose is readable and straightforward, which renders the occasions when the odd malapropism slips through less distracting than they might be (‘patients’ when context would indicate ‘patience’, for example). The plots and relationships entertain, in a wholesome splicing of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series with Mills and Boon. Fans of sweet romance will appreciate that Greenwood keeps her romances light and coy with bedroom doors firmly closed.