The Mail Order Bride
I was skeptical on reading these two stories. However, my skepticism was misplaced. It was a breath of fresh air to read The Mail Order Bride. The writing style was well thought out. I also enjoyed reading a story in the 3rd person point of view. All too often, stories are told in first person with varying points of view and it's quite confusing. This was not.
The story of Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen begins with correspondance. Letters. (You know those things you get in the mail? On paper?). In 1887, Edward placed an ad in Matrimonial News citing verse and looking for a bride. Isabella responds to his query and they write letters back and forth for six months (one chapter). He sends for her and she travels from her home in Virginia to Denver, Colorado. They meet in the city and their whirlwind courtship begins. Within a day of her arrival, Isabella is wed to Edward.
As she packed up her items in the woman's boarding house, the matron shares the trevails of a woman's matrimonial duty and trouser snakes. This frightens Isabella and is quite honestly a humorous portion of the story. Anyhow, after their marriage is consummated (which was quite pleasurable to Bella...no worries about trouser snakes), they travel to Edward's homestead, Bear Valley Ranch.
Their relationship grows steadily and Edward is drawn to Bella's wit and tenaciousness. Bella is drawn to Edward's patience and undoubted love for his new bride. Trouble lurks for the newlyweds, though. An unexpected visitor of Jacob Black and his sister, Rosalie Black, throws them for a loop. Rosalie eventually befriends Bella but Jacob is mad. Crazy.
He's insanely jealous of Edward and his 'easy life.' He calls Edward a 'Jonah.' He feels that Bella should be his and attempts to kidnap. Not once but twice. The first time is at the preacher's Sunday dance. The second time was on the grounds of the Bear Valley Ranch after Jacob was presumed dead. Edward catches up with Jacob and he is arrested by the sheriff, Charlie Forks. Jacob is sentenced to death by hanging and all is good with the Cullens.
Jasper and Alice make a brief appearance but their roles are larger in the second installment, Bear Valley Ranch.
Bear Valley Ranch
Bear Valley Ranch picks up where The Mail Order Bride left off. Bella is in the 'family' way and gives birth to their first born child, Joy Elizabeth Cullen. Things are looking up for Edward and Bella as they adjusted to the new way of ranching. After the birth of their child, Edward and Bella receive a telegram that Edward's parents along with Jasper and Alice are coming to visit. This excites and worries Edward and Bella.
Edward left his home in Chicago in his 20s because he didn't want to become a corporate drone like his father. He headed out west for the cowboy way of life. Subsequently, he didn't speak much to his parents after he left Illinois. Once his parents arrive with a big what-to-do, Edward is leery of his father's intentions. They brought with them several large items including Edward's piano and very expensive farming equipment. Carlisle insists that the equipment is a gift but Edward doesn't believe him.
His hunch was right. When pushed on why Carlisle brought the equipment, he said that he wanted to venture into the ranching side of things with Cullen Enterprises. This angers Edward, a proud man, and he storms out, demanding his father take his equipment with him. Shortly after their falling out, the men go out for the drive while Bella and the women take their baked goods to Bear Valley. Bella strikes a deal with Miss Kitty, the proprietress of the boarding house they were staying in for Bella's baked goods, canned vegetables, milk and eggs.
On the drive, there was a stampede (no one was hurt, thankfully) but unfortunately Carlisle became deathly ill. However before he became overrun with fever, he insisted that Edward keep the farming equipment as a gift. Carlisle was proud of what his son had become and didn't want to interfere with his affairs.
Upon the return from the drive, Carlisle was stricken with pneumonia. Dr. Banner tried to treat him conventionally, but was unable to do anything for him. In a turn of affairs, the Ute tribe of indians, who benefitted from the stampede (they received several steer who had met their demise) came to thank Edward for his generosity. In return, the shaman set up a sweatbox and effectively cured Carlisle of his illness.
As stated before, these stories were both well written and extraordinarily informative. I found myself lost in the tale of Edward and Bella. As weird as it sounds, it reminded me of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Anyhow...read it. You'll like it. Even if you don't like westerns (which I don't) but it's definitely a story to get lost in.