I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Contract to Wed by Holly Bush
Series: Crawford Family #2
Published by Self Published on February 5, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
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1891 . . . Jolene Crawford Crenshaw, heiress and Boston socialite, went from her family home directly to Landonmore upon her marriage, the mansion she shared with her handsome and charismatic husband. She’d never in her life worried in the slightest over anything as crass as the dollars required to maintain that home or the lifestyle she’d been born to. Her extensive yearly wardrobe, the stables and the prime horseflesh within it, even the solid silver forks and knifes that graced her table, were expected and required to maintain the social standing that she’d cultivated over the years. But suddenly she was a widow with little money and just her pride and her secrets to keep her upright.
Max Shelby made his fortune in oil wells and cattle but lost the love of his life the day his wife died, over ten years ago. Now, his happy, carefree, little girl needs instruction and guidance as she grows into a young lady and his dream of becoming a Senator from his adopted state of Texas seems out of reach with few political or social connections. The right wife would solve both problems. As it happens his sister knows of a woman, a recent widow, charming, beautiful and socially astute, but in reduced circumstances, who may want to begin again. Max signed the wedding contract sight unseen.
Will Jolene be able to shed her sorrows, anger and fears to begin anew away from the censure and hidden tragedy that marred her life? Is her new husband, confident, strong and capable Max Shelby, the man, the only man, to see past her masks to find the woman beneath?
At the end of the first book, Boston socialite Jolene was married to Turner Crenshaw and the mother of three-year old William. When this story begins, she’s lost both of them, is facing a serious change in her financial situation and is trying to determine her next direction. When she learns Maxmillian Shelby, a wealthy Texas rancher and oilman, is looking for a wife to help him prepare for a political state-wide office run and is willing to pay handsomely, Jolene jumps at the opportunity.
Jolene is beautiful, socially skilled and exceptionally bright. What she isn’t is very nice. She’s aloof but polite; emotionally barren but fully attentive; and, not interested in a committed relationship with her husband but is committed to his goals. Max is at first a bit unsettled when he meets his new wife but it doesn’t take him long to figure out she’s been sorely damaged.
What I loved
I loved the journey Max and Jolene took for her to confront her past, accept who she really is, acknowledge her grief and reach out to those who respected and admired her, in spite of her distance. Max is pretty wonderful and his patience with her was admirable. Unraveling Jolene’s past was heart-wrenching and once revealed, brought me to tears.
The bottom line
This is a really special story that transformed my opinion of a pretty unpleasant character whose true spirit rose from the ashes. The romance is wonderful, passionate and inspired. I loved this story and the set up for the next book is intriguing.
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