Publication Date: March 23, 2012
In An Angel in the Mail by Callie Hutton, Angel Hardwick’s father dies, her stepmother tells her that they are financially ruined due to an embezzlement scheme that her father appeared to have signed off on during his illness. The stepmother has arranged for Angel to be a Mail Order Bride for a man with five children. Angel, a vapid society misses, is horrified, but sees that she has no choice so agrees to go. During the trip, she reads the letters sent on her behalf and learns that her stepmother has promised the sort of domestic skills she doesn’t have. Can she fool her perspective groom? Nathan Hale needs help and hopes that his bride will fit the bill. Won’t he be in for a surprise?
I love historical romance and An Angel in the Mail good one. An excellent romance novel tends to be simple and straightforward and this one, perhaps had a few too many plot twists. I did enjoy that Callie Hutton allowed us to know the couple and for them to know each other before introducing the baddie into the story line.
The baddie in this case was a jealous woman. There were some shock twists that set this particular plot point above the ordinary. Had this plot twist been listed in the description I might not have picked up the book and in not picking it up, I would have missed out. Lucy Benson is a bit overdone and often hard to believe. She had her moments where this reader stopped and said, “Really?” but overall she fits well with the story line. She also had the one thing that makes a really good baddie — something that made us feel for her.
I did not expect to like Angel when I first met her. Vapid and pampered she came off as someone who would perhaps be a little hard to stomach in a new situation. Hutton shows her skill when she makes this woman not only likable but believable. She comes from a household of servants and does not have birds dancing around her skirt as she sweeps the floor. The kids don’t all like her, but call her mama the moment she walks through the door. She’s downright incapable of much, but she appreciates that this is now her lot in life and tries her best and, really, what more can you ask for in a character?Halfway through the book, I found that I smiled happily when she made cookies that were edible. Way to go, Angel!
Nathan Hale is also one of the better romance male characters I’ve read. He’s not overbearing and willing to help his wife adjust (if only, at first, because she has a nice body), he’s a genuinely good guy and fun to read. A lot of romance men either don’t want a marital relationship with their wife or agree to wait. Not so Nathan which made him in a way more realistic. He was willing to be kind and gentle, but he had expectations and Angel didn’t begrudge him those expectations. Some readers might call him a little unrealistic to the time period, but we have exceptions now, so why not then? Nathan is a guy who doesn’t resent his first loveless marriage but wants to have something special the second time around … even if he didn’t realize that fact when he sent away for his bride. What’s more, you know those five kids are going to grow up to be genuine, good and kind. When he and Angel welcome her stepmother into their home, he lays down the law but does it in a way that screams to the character Hutton has created as fair and kind.
Speaking of children, Ms. Hutton writes them well. The four that can speak come off as very real and age appropriate. One of my favorite interactions with the kids comes early on in the novel when Nathan takes the carrots from the baby’s plate afraid that she’ll choke and one of the little boys says, “I’m choking, steal my carrots too.” I have had a child that age and can attest to that being exactly something she would say.
There are some historical flubs that probably would only bother this student of history. There’s talk of sending word to a couple honeymooning in San Francisco who will be home in two days. Oregon City is 10 hours by car from San Francisco. People traveling between the two in 1861 would have already been on the road a few days if they’re expected in two days. Also, there are court scenes in the book that have the feel of a modern courtroom setting with evidence that couldn’t have been procured in the time frame stated … as well as a case being deferred for five days. In that area and those days, they’d have wanted to wrap the case up as quickly as possible.
As a result of such well-formed characters, this novel was a treat to read. Hutton doesn’t drag out the parts of the story line that shouldn’t be. She gets to the point and gets there in a way that the reader believes and enjoys.
I recommend this book for all romance readers as a fun and quick read. Read an excerpt and buy An Angel in the Mail by Callie Hutton on