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Review: A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California

An ever-resourceful widow, Elenora Watkins arrives in El Dorado ready to go into partnership with Miles Rutledge. When he refuses, Elenora becomes the competition across the street. Is this town big enough for the two of them?

Miles can’t help but stick his well-polished boot in his mouth whenever he comes face-to-face with Elenora. Can he find a way to win her heart while destroying her business?

Miles’s mother, Maude, is bent on Elenora becoming her new daughter-in-law while Elenora’s daughter, Tildy, thinks Miles would make a perfect papa. How far will these meddlers go to unite this enterprising pair?

I’ve been waiting to read A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California for quite some time. I credit author Keli Gwyn’s efforts to drum up interest in her debut novel for my anticipation. And the book did not disappoint.

Elenora Watkins worked for years to prove to her father she was capable of running his mercantile. When he gave a valued position to an undeserving stepson, Elenora realized it was time to leave Omaha and remove her daughter Tildy from the likes of cold-hearted men such as her father and her late husband. She accepts a partnership in a mercantile and travels to El Dorado, California.

When Miles Rutledge discovers E. F. Watkins is a woman, reminders of his wayward late wife cause him to withdraw his offer of partnership. The action leaves Elenora three choices, two of which are unsatisfactory, but the third sets off humorous and, sometimes, serious fireworks in the small town.

I liked both the adult characters in this story, however, it’s Tildy who stole the show for me. She’s a nine-year-old chatterbox who adores Elenora’s competition (and the feeling is mutual) before our heroine has a chance to see little more than his fastidious appearance.

In a slight let down, I kept waiting for the moment in which Elenora would tell Miles of her experience with men, since those times formed much of her desire to prove herself. It could have been a moving scene, much the same as when Miles tells her of his loss. However, I loved the way Ms. Gwyn used Elenora’s form of addressing Miles as a indication of her surrender to her feelings.

This historical has laugh-out-loud moments for those who are looking for a more light-hearted read, dramatic moments for those needing more depth of emotion, and of course, romance for everyone. Frankly, it’s hard to decide which “merchant” to root for.  

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California is worth adding to your reading list!


How dramatic do you like your stories to read? Do you prefer a heavier drama? Light-hearted and fun? Or a mixture of both?

Disclosure of Material Connection: This story came to me free from Barbour with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

As an author of heartwarming historical and contemporary romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

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