Review: In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman

Thursday, May 8

Title:  In Want of a Wife*
Author: Jo Goodman
Series: Bitter Springs
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Format: paperback, ebook, hardcover, audiobook, audio cd
Date/Year: May 6, 2014     
Reviewed by: Blue 

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Summary from the publisher:

 Jane Middlebourne needs a way out. In 1891, life in New York is unforgiving for a young woman with no prospects, especially when her family wants nothing to do with her. So when Jane discovers an ad for a mail-order bride needed in Bitter Springs, Wyoming, she responds with a hopeful heart.


Rancher Morgan Longstreet is in want of a wife who will be his partner at Morning Star, someone who will work beside him and stand by him. His first impression of the fair and fragile Jane is that she is not that woman. But when she sets out to prove him wrong, the secrets he cannot share put into jeopardy every happiness they hope to find….

My Musings:

Jane Middlebourne has been living with her reluctant cousin, Frances, since she was orphaned.  While treated as a family member in public view, she was treated more like a servant in private.  Frances also has a tendency to be less than generous with her own children, and one of them, Alex, concocts a scheme with Jane which they believe will gain them some funds.  The scheme doesn’t go as planned, and has serious and tragic consequences for Jane.  It’s much later in the book that we find out just how awful this incident was.

Needing to leave her cousin’s household, Jane replies to Morgan Longstreet’s advertisement for a mail order bride in Wyoming, far away from New York.  Since Jane is small, and somewhat frail looking, she sends a picture of her sturdier cousin instead of her own.  When she gets off the train to meet Morgan, he finds her attractive, but has doubts about her suitability for this rougher life.  They decide to take a day to get to know each other a little before they commit to the marriage, and Morgan deposits her in the local hotel.

The author does a great job of conveying the awkwardness of the initial meeting, and showing the uncertainty they both were feeling.  Jane is really desperate here, as she has no alternate plan, and not a lot of money if Morgan decides not to marry her.  I like very much how Jane maintained her dignity and did her best to convince Morgan that she was strong and ready and willing to take on being a rancher’s wife.  Morgan is definitely the strong silent type.  He behaves like a gentleman, but at the same time, doesn’t reveal much of himself.  They decide to go ahead and marry, and Morgan takes her home to his ranch.  Trying to be considerate, Morgan tells Jane that he’ll sleep separately until she gets used to him and knows him better.  Jane, of course, feels undesired.

Their journey from strangers to lovers takes a winding path.  I liked both of these characters very much.  Jane has strength of character, honesty, and she works very hard to make the ranch into a home.  It takes longer for Morgan to reveal pieces of his past, and it contains some things not to be proud of, and some horrible things done to him.  He is determined to be a better man, and I can only admire him.  Of course, when they finally appear to be heading toward their happy ever after, Morgan’s past comes back to put their new life in jeopardy.

Generally, I’m not a fan of westerns, but I am a fan of Jo Goodman.  This book did not disappoint.  The two main characters were strong and memorable, their romance was slow building and satisfying, and the villains were dealt with in the way they deserved.  I recommend this book, and will be picking up “The Last Renegade” and “True to the Law,” the first two books in the Bitter Spring series.


Overall: 4 stars
Sensuality level: 3

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