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.
I'm so excited to dive into a new series by Cynthia Woolf. In this first installment of The Brides of San Francisco series, "Nellie", we get a connection to an early series written by Woolf, Matchmaker & Co. The matchmaker herself, Margret Selby, makes a brief appearance to match Nellie up with saloon owner, Blake Malone. As Nellie and her kids arrive in San Francisco to meet Blake, I began to wonder if he was too good to be true. Handsome, rich, charming, and good with children. Really? How many guys are like that these days, let alone the 1860's. Blake does have an ulterior motive for marrying Nellie to get a ready made family. He wants to become a respectable business owner and open a family centered entertainment emporium. To do that, he needs the credibility that comes with having a loving family. Nellie knew this upfront and was willing to play the part. What she didn't expect was the part where she didn't have to act at all. The attraction is instant on both, leading them to wed within a day of meeting each other. Nellie's heart is captured instantly when her young daughter places her slobber covered hand on Blake's cheek and he doesn't seem to care. Blake is as affected as Nellie is, but because of his past, love isn't on his radar. Trouble comes in the form of Nellie's ex father-in-law and Blake's former mistress who also manages his saloon girls. I feared for both Nellie and Blake's lives at several points in the story. The fear that both the characters felt led to a deeper understanding of their feelings for each other. Woolf doesn't skimp on the heat in this book either. It is a little bit of a slow burn since Nellie's sexual experience with her late husband was a painful one. Eventually, when neither of them can take the build up anymore and Blake convinces his bride he will bring only pleasure, the two give in to their desires. *fans self* They end up giving in pretty much every night there after. Woolf delivers the thrills, spills, and romance heightened by the allure of the time period. I devoured the 361 pages in one day. I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment of this series to see what this virtuoso of historical romance has in store for us next. Thank you to Cynthia Woolf and Black Lion Book Tours for gifting me with a copy of "Nellie" in exchange for an honest review.
Get to know the author:
Cynthia Woolf is the award winning and best-selling author of ten
historical western romance books, one short story, and one novella in the
anthology Lost in a Kiss, with more books on the way. She was born in Denver,
Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden. She spent her early years
running wild around the mountain side with her friends.
Their closest neighbor was one quarter of a mile away, so her little brother
was her playmate and her best friend. That fierce friendship lasted until his
death in 2006.
Cynthia was and is an avid reader. Her mother was a librarian and brought new
books home each week. This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling
bug. She wrote her first story at the age of ten. A romance about a little boy
she liked at the time.
Cynthia loves writing and reading romance. Her first western romance Tame A
Wild Heart, was inspired by the story her mother told her of meeting Cynthia’s
father on a ranch in Creede, Colorado. Although Tame A Wild Heart takes place
in Creede that is the only similarity between the stories. Her father was a
cowboy not a bounty hunter and her mother was a nursemaid (called a nanny now)
not the ranch owner.
Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the
great friends she's made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to
explore her creativity.