"Love by the Letter" by Melissa Jagears
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Part of a series?: Yes, Book #0.5 of Unexpected Brides
Genre: Christian historical romance
Format read: Free e-book from Amazon
Sweet or hot?: Definitely sweet; only two kisses in the entire story
Disclosure: “Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.”
I've had this book on my iPad for almost four months because I kept waiting to carve out time for it. When I finally opened it, I realized that it was a novella with an estimated reading time of only 90 minutes. Note to self: remember that if the book number has a decimal, it is probably a novella and not a full-sized novel. Anyway . . .
Love by the Letter is a novella introducing the Unexpected Brides series. I read the first book, A Bride for Keeps before I realized there was a prior story and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm glad that I backed up to read this one because it was a nice little break in my day and gave me the sweet historical fix that I had been missing.
In this story, we meet Dex and Rachel. It is 1858 in Missouri and Dex is finishing up preparations to make the trek west with a wagon train. He doesn't want to do this alone but there aren't any compatible women in town so he writes for a mail-order bride. Well, there is one woman, Rachel, but she is one of the smartest women in town and Dex feels that he isn't worthy of her because he has trouble reading and writing. When he finally gets a response from a woman who makes fun of his spelling, Dex decides to swallow his pride and ask Rachel for some help so he can write a new letter. Little does he know that Rachel has spent three years trying to get Dex to notice her.
This novella is well written and doesn't suffer from the issue of feeling rushed, which happens often with stories of this length. The author managed to drop the reader into a situation -- Dex's departure date is only a week away at the start of the story -- without making it feel like the book was missing pages. The description of Dex and Rachel's first kiss was stirring yet I don't think it would raise the hackles of the devout Christians who think all romance is trash. As a Christian who no longer attends church, I didn't find the Christian elements of the story to be as overwhelming as in, say, a Lori Wick book. However, they do take up a good bit of the second half of the story and are indicative of the level of Bible quoting a reader would find in the next book.
As of this writing, Love by the Letter is still available for free on Amazon. The e-book includes a healthy three-chapter sneak peek at the next book, which takes place 18 years after the events of the novella. I say give it a try if you would like a sweet story to go with your evening tea.