Barry, Amy. Kit McBride Takes A Wife. Jove/Penguin. 352 pp. ISBN
This laugh-out-loud mistaken identity tale set in 1886 Montana is a fast-paced romp about a motherless tomboy who can barely cook and clean but is forced into housewifely chores by her four older (well-meaning) brothers. The McBrides thought they’d start their own town up the mountain with their smithy and trading post, but the heart of local civilization is hours away, with it’s depot/post office, mercantile, and cat house. Lonely and loquacious Junebug keeps a complaint book so her brother Kit doesn’t have to listen to her bellyaching.
When a local trapper asks Junebug to help him write an ad for a mail-order bride, Junebug gets it into her head that if Kit had a wife, she wouldn’t have to do so many chores, and posts her own scathingly honest ad… which one buxom gold-digger Willabelle Lascalles responds to. She drags her Irish servant along on her western adventure to snag a wealthy husband, mistakes an old drunkard for the smithy, and bails, leaving lovely Maddy behind with a pampered pooch. She promptly sprains an ankle, resulting in many days of being carried about and fetched cups of tea, making friends with Junebug, and falling for Kit herself. Kit thinks Maddy is the Mrs. Lascalles who wants to marry him, and Junebug convinced Maddy not to set her brother straight just yet. And then a blizzard or two later, Beau and Morgan return from fetching the doctor (remember the sprained ankle) with the real Mrs. Lascalles…
Maddy’s travels by train from sooty St. Louis to the wilds of Montana read like a love letter to the US, even as she compares to her emerald isle homeland. Late 18th century details are convincingly portrayed. The characters are archetypal, rather than stereotypical, and author Amy Barry has a nice note at the end of the book, citing the native people and lands portrayed with dignity. Junebug’s success leads her to pen an ad for Morgan at the end of the book, launching what will be a memorable and enjoyable series for readers who don’t want to take their romance too seriously, swoon over mountain men, and appreciate the tropes of getting snowed in and mistaken identity.
I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #KitMcBrideTakesAWife from #NetGalley.