Keli Gwyn’s debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado California, is an engaging, satisfying read set in the golden foothills of California’s gold country.
Widow Elenora Watkins wants two things: a fresh start for her and her daughter Tildy, and to have a partnership in a mercantile. She travels to El Dorado, California for the opportunity to make both dreams a reality. Unfortunately, when her potential associate Miles Rutledge finds out she’s female, he won’t make her his partner.
What’s a spunky woman to do? Why, open her own mercantile, of course. Right across the street from Miles’ store.
Miles was married to a willful woman like Elenora before, and he won’t make the mistake of falling for someone like that again. And if Elenora thinks she can run him out of business selling folderol and fancy soaps, she’s going to be disappointed. And if she thinks she’ll displace him as El Dorado’s best violinist, she’s crazy. If it’s a battle of the sexes she wants, he’s game. But when Elenora’s daughter gets hold of his heart, there’s no untwining their lives.
If he and Elenora can stop being competitors, they just might become a family.
Gwyn’s writing is charming, and her story left me smiling. The dialogue is quick and amusing, but the story has its share of sad and serious moments, too, making for a balanced tale. The characters have areas to grow spiritually, and I appreciated the inspirational elements. I also enjoyed how Gwyn wove historical detail into the story (from Victorian brand names to rose varieties), enhancing the sense of time and place.
I recommend A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado California and I look forward to more from Keli Gwyn!
This novel was furnished by the author for purposes of review. A positive review was neither promised nor expected.