"A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California" by Keli Gwyn
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?
"A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California", from author Keli Gwyn, was a true delight for me as a reader. The just-right blend of heartfelt inspirational romance, humor, and history kept me involved in the story line from beginning to end. The well-drawn characters were made all the more compelling by their little flaws and inner conflicts. Following the heroine and her hero as they grew as individuals and grew to love each other was very enjoyable. Elenora Watkins is a strong, capable woman who longs to be out from under the stifling rule of her father's controlling nature. A widow with a young daughter, Elenora takes a chance and leaves her home in Omaha, Nebraska to make a new life in El Dorado, California. Having run her father's store with little recognition, Ellie feels that she will make a suitable partner for Miles Rutledge in his mercantile business. However, Miles' mother, Maude, is really the one who has been corresponding with Ellie, and she has let Miles believe that his new partner is a man. When Miles discovers that "E.F. Watkins" is in fact Elenora Watkins, he withdraws his partnership offer. Ellie has not come all that way to be refused and turned around, and she determines to make the best of the situation for herself and her daughter, Tildy. Ellie sets up her own shop, across the street from Miles' store, and she decides to cater her business to please the women of the town, offering more female-friendly merchandise than can be found at Rutledge Mercantile. Miles is as exasperated as he is enchanted by Ellie, and Tildy touches a place deep in his heart. He is a widower, having lost his wife and baby daughter in a fire years ago. Ellie is lovely, smart, and stubborn, and she and Miles are both highly competitive. Sparks and sassy remarks fly between the two of them, and a friendship blooms along with respect and admiration. What each of them needs is to be found right before their eyes, but each must learn to compromise and trust in their faith and in each other. Can they both let down their guard, and let love lead them to true happiness? I adore strong heroines and the men who love them all the more because they are strong and smart. I look forward to future works from talented storyteller Keli Gwyn. Highly recommended, especially for those who have always seen the endless possibilities of the wonders to be found in a marvelous, magical mercantile. In my childhood, the "five-and-dime store" in my little home town was the stuff that dreams were made of--a place of continuous fascination--and I knew what was in every nook and cranny. Keli Gwyn took me back to that time and place with her wonderfully descriptive writing.
Award-winning novelist Keli Gwyn is a California native who lives in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her stories transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. She enjoys visiting her fictional worlds, the Coach factory outlet store, and Taco Bell.