I enjoyed Mary Connealy's Gingham Mountain, so when given the chance to read her newest, Montana Rose, I jumped at it.
Montana Rose is the story of Cassie and Red. The book begins with the burial of Cassie's first husband, Griff. She has always been known (behind her back)as "China Doll" because of her expensive clothes and lack of interaction with the townsfolk. After husband is buried, all the single men at the funeral vie for her hand, since she needs a husband and the parson is there. The gravedigger, a young rancher who does odd jobs around town, wins her, simply because he seems like the least bad choice. She spends the rest of the day learning what everyone else in town already knew--that everything she and her husband owned was mortgaged to the hilt. She went to her new husband with nothing, except the baby she was carrying.
Over the course of the story, her husband learns that the "China Doll" was a creation of her first husband. They learn to love and trust each other and of course the book has a happy ending.
While Gingham Mountain was a fun read, with a little Christianity thrown in, Montana Rose more closely follows the Christian fiction model of a character finding redemption and Christ--but I won't tell you which one does. Something I found interesting about the religion in this book is that Red, an aspiring preacher, prays for the repose of the soul of Cassie's first husband. Also, when Cassie's baby is born, a baptism is scheduled. I know a lot of non-Catholics baptize babies, but I didn't realize any prayed for the dead.
There is a woman in the book who gets a lot of pages, but who really had little to do with the plot of the book; she could have been completely left out really, but since this is the first book in a series, my guess is that we'll see Belle in a future book. I'll look forward to it; I enjoyed this book and would like to know that happens to her.
First Wildcard will tour this book July 28. Check back then to read the first chapter and read about the author, Mary Connealy. To learn more about her other books, check on Connealy's website.