Julia O’Brien is a practical woman. A nurse and midwife, she was perhaps the most surprised when she fell in love with Dr. Matthew Reynolds and agreed to be his mail order bride. She sets off for Tombstone carrying his letters and a heart full of hope.
Dr. Matthew Reynolds didn’t want a wife, and is shocked when Julia arrives on his door step with a marriage license bearing his signature. He discovers that his grandfather has wooed the young woman without his knowledge, and made promises in his name without permission. An annulment seems to be the easy answer, but Julia has nowhere to go. Now, his unwanted wife is sleeping in his house, working with him at his clinic, and generally driving him to distraction.
When a call comes in from a desperate young mother, Julia handles the call alone. The young woman gives birth to a beautiful baby girl, but does not survive childbirth. Suddenly, Matthew is faced with a new choice, not only does he have a beautiful and caring wife, but a precious new daughter to fill his empty life. But Julia is not willing to accept less than his whole heart, and when the young infant’s father attempts to steal her away, Matthew will have to move heaven and earth to convince the woman he has grown to love that he can be what she needs.
Mail Order Doctor reads like an over the top western soap opera – the fun kind. It’s not a deep book by any means, but it was a nice change of pace for me. It was a quick and easy read that entertained and frustrated me, it made me laugh and made my eyes sting a time or two. I had to remind myself, repeatedly, that mail order brides were not uncommon back then, and that while there were times I wanted to yell at Julia to stop putting herself out there, I had to remember that women didn’t have a lot of options in the late 1800s. So what I saw as a woman repeatedly setting herself up to be a doormat, was actually the actions of a woman determined to grab hold of the life she wanted.
As the blurb indicates, Julia arrives in Tombstone expecting to begin a new life married to a man she has fallen in love with via letters. Needless to say, both she and Matthew were surprised to learn that it was actually Walt, Matthew’s grandfather, who wooed Julia on Matthew’s behalf, and then arranged for the marriage by proxy. I will admit that I found Julia’s acceptance of the hoodwinking to be a bit baffling, but knowing that women’s attitudes regarding their roles and marriage have changed drastically in the last century and a half, I just had to go with it. In the same vein, I found Matthew’s reaction and his tendency to lash out at Julia over the situation to be hard to take – she was the innocent who was tricked by his grandfather, and, in my opinion, had far more of a right to be upset over the situation than Matthew did. Yet this did not keep Julia from putting herself out there and getting rejected by him over and over, until finally she couldn’t take any more rejections. Because Mail Order Doctor has a soap opera feel to me, it wasn’t surprising that it took a rather dramatic act before Matthew finally put his pride aside and realized that Julia was more important than his pride. However, by that time, he had to prove his worth to her.
Mail Order Doctor is an easy read that moves quickly. Sometimes it moves too quickly, with little to no transition between scenes or haphazard references to time passed, which made some of the events jarring. While I enjoyed the story, I never really felt the chemistry between Matthew and Julia. To be honest, I didn’t expect there to be any in the beginning because they didn’t know one another, but as they spent time together and learned more about one other, I never felt that spark between them. Not even in bed. Even though they worked well together, and they certainly bantered like friends, it never felt like more than that, which left the romance aspect unfulfilled for me. I should note that I did not read book one, but I don’t believe there is any connection between the books other than the location of Tombstone. Although not my typical genre, Mail Order Doctor proved to be an entertaining read precisely for that reason. So if you’re looking for something a bit different, maybe a little over the top, check out the sample to see if the writing appeals to you, because you should be able to tell if it’s what you’re looking for within a few pages. I don’t know that I’ll go back to read book one, but I would be interested in reading book three to find out how Ben fares with his mail order bride.