Mary Peters live in Maine in the late 1800's. A nineteen year old girl with a "too big" nose, "too thin" lips and freckles, she's left behind without so much as a suitor while all of her sisters have left the house to be married. With an eye to the papers, she stumbles across an ad from Neil Craftsman, a Nebraska farmer seeking a bride. He asks for a woman who is hardworking, dependable and capable of bearing children, yet he never mentions the word pretty.
It fits Mary to a t.
Despite her parents' objections, she boards the train and spends a week traveling to the prairies of Nebraska. Only, when she gets there, she discovers that Neil did want something pretty after all, and Mary is just too plain!
A lesser woman would have run crying, but Mary is a strong woman who refuses to go cringing back home. It's this exact resilience that impresses Dave Larson and leads him to ask her to marry him instead. Though reluctant to accept, he manages to convince her and, by the end of the day, Mary Peters is a married woman.
But, her mother never taught her about marriage, and certainly no one instructed her in the ways of farming back in her hometown in Maine. The next several months are a learning experience for her, in more ways than one, the question is can she learn to trust Dave's feelings and see herself through his eyes?
When I started this book I only intended to read a couple of chapters; I ended up reading the whole book in one setting. Mary is a character that I could quickly identify with, from her desire to please, to the rejection she has so often gotten from men, who see only what's on the outside, not what's inside.
But this isn't just Mary's story, it is also Dave's who, after tragedy strikes, has to learn how to cope. Interwoven between the lines is the story of Neil Craftsman who finally gets what he wants; a beautiful east coast bride, but is she really as fantastic as everyone thinks?
More than just a historical romance, this is a story about looking under the surface, least we forget that there's more to people than what they look like and that, while a pretty face may appeal at first, there has to be something underneath it. But most importantly, it's a reminder the beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
(review of free book)