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A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California

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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? 

313 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 2012

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About the author

Keli Gwyn

15 books152 followers
Keli Gwyn's stories transported readers to the 1800s, where she brought historic towns to life, peopled them with colorful characters, and added a hint of humor. She has retired from writing and is spending time with her husband and adorable cat.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 73 reviews
Profile Image for Jody Hedlund.
Author 60 books3,615 followers
April 5, 2012
Keli Gwyn brings the Sierra Foothills to life with rich historical details. She's crafted delightful and unique characters that make a home in your heart. The tender and sweet romance has plenty of sparks to keep you turning the pages. And when you reach the last page, you'll breath a satisfied sigh but at the same time wish this lovely story didn't have to end.
Profile Image for Erica Vetsch.
Author 54 books1,078 followers
March 29, 2012
LOVED IT! You will fall in love with this setting and these characters. The dialogue is so good with snappy comebacks and pointed observations. I Loved it!
Profile Image for Madisyn Carlin.
Author 10 books186 followers
June 20, 2022
Elenora Watkins is a woman determined to forge a better future for herself and her daughter. The way she will accomplish that? By accepting a partnership with a mercantile owner in El Dorado, California. When events don't transpire the way she planned, Elenora is forced to make another decision: admit defeat or see this unfortunate (or fortunate?) occurrence as a bump in the road and refuse to let anything waylay her.

Naturally, she selects the latter.

This is such an endearing tale. Heroines who are strong and opinionated go one of two ways: they're obnoxious troublemakers like the feminist nuisances today, or they're well-crafted, lovable characters whom you easily connect with, who only want the fairer sex to be able to vote and own their own business, and who don't adopt the asinine "we don't need a man" attitude. Elenora is the second type. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her story. Her desire to prove herself worthy of respect and her love and protection of her daughter is sweet.

Miles Rutledge is a great character as well. Like Elenora, he's opinionated. Like Elenora, he's faced loss and pain. Like Elenora, he's not quite sure what his slightly-meddlesome, well-meaning mother's plans are. The way he and Elenora interacted, and the way the sparks flew, add a delightful amount of humor to the story. It is so well-done and so natural--their exchanges are not forced in the slightest--and the settings and subplots and secondary characters are so nicely crafted that you truly are swept into the story and transported to 1870 El Dorado, California.

The faith element is beautifully interspersed. And everything just flows so smoothly. No hiccups, no rough patches. Well done, Ms. Gwyn. You created a captivating story.

If you like Christian historical romance, humorous characters, mishaps, faith, and lessons in seeking God's guidance, then you will definitely enjoy A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California.
Profile Image for Paula-O.
558 reviews
December 22, 2012
A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado California by Keli Gwyn

I loved the characters of Elnora and Miles, they shone like stars throughout this story-you are in for a treat with this story.

Widow Elnora Watkins was an independent type woman and had helped her father in his shop but when he took his step-son on as partner and she thought she would have had that privilege all these years of working for him-it was the last straw and she started looking for another store and another place to live.
Miles Rutledge is a tall strong handsome man who lives and owns a shop in El Dorado where he is looking for a partner, He received letters from E Watkins and knew the credentials were good ones and offered the position sight unseen. Elnora and child Matilda who is effectionately called "Tildy" arrive and it throws Miles for a loop. He cannot have a woman for a partner and they get off on the wrong foot from the beginning.
Being an independent woman and knowing that she has to make a living for she and her child, she opens a shop across the street from Miles store. it may be smaller but it has charm and genteelity with a woman owning it. Soon the two are in competition and though she likes Miles and his mother there is friction daily between the two.
Tildy is the buffer between them as Miles loves Children and they get along great....
As the story unfolds Miles and Elnora, whom Miles calls "Elle" find they have much in comon besides their stores. they both can play the fiddle.
Miles had heartache in his first marriage and is not about to have another, Elnora did not have a happy marriage either and her father always dominated her so she is not wanting to get close to "Any" man.
You will love this story as theses two strong characters listen to their hearts and God and gives Love a chance to grow between them, slowly....
Profile Image for Casey.
417 reviews106 followers
July 11, 2012
A book for the heart. “A Bride Opens Shop…” has a cast of characters to adore, situations to inspire conflict and a love romance that will blossom in the heart of even the most reticent of participants.

Tildy. Oh. My. Goodness. What a little girl. She had me giggling by the first time I met her and sharing her witty tidbits with my family. Elenora is a very determined woman. Nothing is going to get in her way, especially Miles. Her drive at times got her into trouble, physically and emotionally. Watching her bloom was a pleasure and at times I thought moved too gradually, but read further into the novel and you’ll see as I did that all was preparation for crafting her character.

Elenora and Miles are very proper young people with backstories rich in conflict. Each background played a strong role in the story and how they accepted each other in their romance.

Between Tildy, the romance and the feuding mercantiles, the story was kept lively and enjoyable with something always going to happen. The ending was absolutely charming. I loved it most of all and once you’ve watched these characters grow together, I have no doubt it will be your favorite part of the novel as well!

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the author for my copy to review.
Profile Image for Jessica Patch.
Author 66 books482 followers
July 11, 2012
If you're looking for a book that makes you giggle, smile, sigh with satisfaction and learn a valuable lesson, or a few, then Keli Gwyn's debut novel is one you want to read.

Her characters were well developed, each with a unique personality. If I closed my eyes and heard the lines read, I would know who was who. Her main character, Elenora, was independent but teachable which is a great lesson for all of us to learn. Her hero had faults but worked hard to overcome them. And the spunky daughter, Tildy, cracked me up with her ramblings, which actually added to the plot and gave me many smiles.

The romance was as sweet as the candy sticks in Miles Rutledge's shop, but at times tart like his favorite lemon drops. It didn't come easy and I love a book with tension and conflict!

The end was perfectly written and I couldn't ask for a better sigh of satisfaction. I went to bed thinking about them with a smile on my face.

I anticipate Gwyn's next book. Hurry up and wait comes to mind.
Profile Image for Renee.
791 reviews
July 3, 2012
It's not often that so many debut novels impress me but so far this year I've read a ton (probably a ton, literally!) that I loved and would highly recommend for any romance readers. This latest debut, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, is making my list of awesome first books and has earned its spot in my permanent library. Going into this book I knew that I'd probably enjoy it simply because I've really enjoyed all the "destination" romances that have been published by Barbour but this one is by far my favorite.

Elenora Watkins left her old life behind with the hopes of starting a new life for herself and her daughter, Tildy as a junior partner in Rutledge Mercantile of El Dorado, California. Miles Rutledge's new partner, E. F. Watkins, is not quite what he was expecting especially since she's a Elenora and not an Edward. Unwilling to return to her old life Elenora takes her meager savings and starts her own little shop across the street.

Never before has the lyric, "Anything you can do I can do better..," come to my mind while reading a romance but it certainly fit with this story. I absolutely loved the back and forth competition between Miles and Elenora concerning everything from their shops, their violin playing, to shooting a gun all while watching them grow closer together. I was a little worried about Miles at first since he admitted to being something of a dandy but as the story unfolded he began to remind me of a certain Austen hero (yeah, that Darcy fellow) we all know an love. He was a bit cold at first but boy does he warm up! As for Ellie she is the perfect heroine. She is probably the most stubborn woman that I've ever come across in a book but it's not off-putting at all. Sometimes hardheaded heroines definitely make for some serious eye roll moments in a book but not so with Ellie! She definitely does not give in easily and she goes for EVERYTHING with gusto.

Between Miles and Ellie alone I didn't want their story to end but throw in her precocious daughter, Matilida aka Tildy, and you definitely have a winner. Hopefully Tildy grows up and gets her own story. She is a bundle of energy and never quits gabbing so I think I'd like her to meet a man whose ears she can talk off. ;-)

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, is a fine debut that was worth the wait. Keli Gwyn is a truly talented writer who has a knack for writing an engaging and fun story that's perfect to read on a sunny summer day. Bring on the next book Ms. Gwyn!

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars *A Favorite!*

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*
Profile Image for Holly Weiss.
Author 3 books118 followers
July 12, 2012
Widow Elenora Watkins relocates with her daughter Tildy to the Sierra foothills of California to be an associate in a mercantile. When he find out she is a woman, prospective partner Miles Rutledge refuses to take her on. Her solution? Invest her life savings in her own competing store right across the street. She has spunk enough to know her woman’s touch will turn her fledgling shop into a thriving business. Will woman-sized garden tools, scented soaps and pretty fabrics keep her shop on its feet?

Keli Gwyn’s novel is a delightful battle not just of competing trades, but also of tussling wills and glints of romance. Miles and Elenora perform side by side in Bach’s Double Violin Concerto—one of many ways we see their kinship and rivalry. Gwyn’s writing grabs you by the collar. Scenes are liberally sprinkled with spiffy dialogue. The book is packed with lively, intricate characters that come to life within the first three pages of the story. Elenora is self-assured, resourceful and untraditional. “Being discounted simply because she was a woman was bad enough, but being talked about as if she weren’t there fluffed her feathers.” Her spicy and precocious daughter Tildy adds the right dose of levity to the story.

This Christian historical romance is highly recommended as a charming view of the old west and an amusing romp through the battle of the sexes. Don’t miss it. You will delight in the time you spend with Miles and Elenora.

Barbour Books graciously provided the review copy for my unbiased opinion.

Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont
Profile Image for Julie Graves.
894 reviews27 followers
July 27, 2013
Elenora Watkins and her daughter are headed for a brand new life in El Dorado, California when their stage is stopped by a bandit. Knowing that her prayers have not been answered lately Elenora decides that she will have to take care of the situation for herself as always.

Upon arrival in El Dorado Elenora’s plans quickly fall apart when mercantile owner Miles Rutledge refuses to take her on as a partner in his store. Elenora, not to be daunted decides to open a store of her own instead. Opening her mercantile right across the street from Miles’, Elenora is determined to prove to him and to the other men in town that she can run a business just as well as any man.

With Miles’ mother taking care of Tildy, Elenora’s daughter, and much of the women in town excited about the new products that Elenora brings into her mercantile a battle of the sexes soon ensues between Miles and Elenora.

Miles is determined to never let another strong-willed woman enter his life but slowly Elenora begins to touch his heart. Elenora wants to be able to provide for herself and Tildy and to be treated as an equal partner in the mercantile business. Will these two ever be able to see eye to eye?

I loved this story! There were several parts that made me laugh out loud. The interchanges between Elenora and Miles had sparks flying. From the opening pages with the stagecoach robber to the satisfying ending A BRIDE OPENS SHOP IN EL DORADO, CALIFORNIA kept me entertained throughout. This is definitely going on my favorites shelf!
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,949 reviews548 followers
February 3, 2013
Review on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/review/R227GQ3T...
Review on my blog (to be posted 1/11): http://christianbookshelfreviews.blog...

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California was a fantastic read! I can hardly believe it is the author's debut novel! The story kept my attention throughout the entire book and I loved how Elenora and Miles competed at pretty much everything... I chuckled a lot because of things done/said.

I loved the characters - my favorites are Miles, Elenora, Tildy, and Miles' mother; but I found all of the townspeople to be engaging and likable. :)

The romance was very sweet and I loved the little bit of suspense that was in A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California.

Overall, I loved A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California - it made its way onto my favorites "shelf". I definitely recommend it if you enjoy historical romances. I look forward to reading more of Keli's books in the future.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*
Profile Image for Angela Bycroft.
148 reviews17 followers
July 16, 2012
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?

What a joyful read this was - from the minute Elenora steps down from the stage with her daughter to find she's not wanted at the mercantile she's accepted a partnership in because she's a she, you know sparks are going to fly.

Setting up in opposition across the road is the ultimate revenge on Mile Rutelege Despite his rather sexist style it's impossible not to like him just a little. He very quickly realizes he likes Elenora and from the minute he calls her Ellie you just know their fate is sealed.

A cute a quirky tale that's makes a wonderful rainy afternoon simply fly by.
Profile Image for Gerri.
Author 29 books107 followers
February 21, 2013
This is an historical romance, a western, sweet as well as inspirational. The author made it work. The heroine, Elenora, is a widow with a young daughter, nine-year-old Tildy, and they travel out to California so Elenora can partner in a Mercantile. Having worked at her father's Mercantile, she is familiar with the business and has some ideas she hopes to implement. However, once the hero, Miles, sees she is a woman, he withdraws his offer. Refusing to return back to her old home, Elenora starts her own Mercantile, and she makes it work. But she is now in competition with Miles. The sparks fly between Elenora and Miles, and not just because they are now competitors. They each have their reasons for refusing anything approaching a romantic relationship with anyone, but those reasons slowly fade as they come to know one another. I did want to slap both Elenora and Miles upside the head for being so stubborn about each other, but that pig-headedness was what made the seem real. People do do dumb things at times. The pacing is just right, not too slow or too fast. When the end comes, it is satisfying. I reccomend this book.
Profile Image for Cynthia Marcano.
Author 17 books53 followers
October 8, 2016
This book was a peaks and valleys kind of book for me.

The parts I found charming (Tildy) were really charming.

However the main character Eleanor was irritating. I just couldn't tolerate her as much I wanted to like her. As a mom I was sympathetic to her motivation - her daughter.

Yet, her stubbornness and competitiveness irked me.

I found Mr. Rutledge immature.

With only a minor character to like and just wasting the book to hurry up to the good stuff, it want the book for me.

I would read another book by KG. Her writing is good, I just didn't like the characters.

Profile Image for Sarah Sundin.
Author 16 books2,713 followers
August 30, 2012
A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California deftly balances romance, humor, and a thoughtful message. Keli Gwyn has a marvelous knack for dialogue, banter, and humor. But I was even more struck by the message of not letting pride destroy relationships. Both Elenora and Miles long to best the other and prove themselves, but they each learn that being respectful and kind is far better. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to more from Keli Gwyn.
378 reviews3 followers
November 26, 2018
A Different Twist

I thoroughly enjoyed your story and its characters; quite a change from the normal western romance tales. I also appreciate that this was a full-length novel and carried the whole story, not skipping scenes or leaving the reader hanging.

I did find over 10 things that need editing and encourage a professional editing versus friends or self editing. Perhaps you'll choose LifeRegeneration Editing in the future?
Profile Image for Sheila Holmes.
Author 27 books56 followers
November 26, 2016
This storyline was just delightful. It was different than any typical western romance novel. It was unique and so much fun to read. This author did a wonderful job of telling the tale and resolved it beautifully.
488 reviews2 followers
September 19, 2017
Very good read.

I definitely recommend this book. I enjoyed the storyline and this author's style of writing. The characters were realistic, I loved Tildy - she was so precious. I look forward to reading more by this author.
Profile Image for bex.
2,435 reviews20 followers
June 16, 2017
Pretty good. Didn't get preachy as many do. Needs a better, and less revealing of the ending, title!
15 reviews
June 24, 2017
Good story

The story was fluid and the characters all developed well. It was a story that I'd read again. I found myself unable to put it down.
July 11, 2017
I really liked it. I really wanted a sequel. At times it was a little slow in moving along, but the ending left you wanting more of Miles, Ellie and Tildy.
August 2, 2017

It was a very good book. Just wish there were more to it. Its for anyone to read and enjoy.
Profile Image for Debbie.
287 reviews
March 21, 2017
I loved this book. All the twists and turns kept me turning pages to see what happens next.
Profile Image for Virginia Campbell.
1,282 reviews243 followers
July 5, 2013
"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.
Profile Image for Beth.
Author 29 books439 followers
October 2, 2012
How did I love this book...let me count the ways. The western flavor of the historic setting and period caught my attention immediately. I could tell the author did her research because every detail speaks to the authenticity of that town, in that time and place. A big high five from me. If there's a historical error, I didn't catch it and I usually ferret out these things. For most readers, though, the characters will be the real attention and heart grabbers. By the end of the story, which I parted with on a happy but wistful sigh, wishing there were more, I felt as if I knew these people. They could be neighbors or family. The heroine, widower Elenora Watkins, is a spirited woman, while also being very likable. Not always the case with super strong females. She has genuine issues that ring true, not just angst thrown in there for conflict. Ms. Gwyn could have taken a late 19th century woman's journal and penned this story based on her struggles to gain the respect of the community, especially the man she comes to love, in an era when women were not regarded as capable of running a shop as efficiently as a man, among other things. Most of all, Elenora strives to stand on her own two feet and provide for her young daughter. I understand why Elenora is so driven to succeed after all she's suffered in her life. As to her daughter, Tildy, sometimes in books children are a bit too cutsy, but she's an appealing little girl who adds depth to the story.

I've saved the best for last; I loved the hero, widower Miles Rutledge. I don't know how Elenora didn't succumb to his charms far, far sooner. Wow, what a man. What woman wouldn't want to take him on as they go head to head over how each conducts themselves, or should, according to the other. Again, Miles is battling deep but real issues, raw wounds that Elenora and Tildy help him to heal. Nothing sounded contrived to me in this story. Miles also seems cut from real life. And both he and Elenora are violinists, so the music is a lovely and unique touch. Clearly, Ms. Gwyn is extremely knowledgeable on the subject and that makes the story all the better.

I also liked that while this is a Christian Inspirational Romance, the author didn't preach at me every other paragraph and have the characters endlessly praying. It was a good balance of life and faith struggles and also seemed real. I keep using that word, but it matters. Did I truly feel I was in this time and place with these people? Yes! And I loved them.

Highly recommended to anyone with a heart.
Profile Image for Lisa Johnson.
2,578 reviews37 followers
November 3, 2014
Title: A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado California
Author: Keli Gwyn
Pages: 320
Year: 2012
Publisher: Barbour Books
Note: I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book. The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility. Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspo.... Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988
Elenora and her daughter Tildy are on their last leg of a journey to El Dorado, California, with the hopes of becoming partners in a mercantile shop. The time frame for this story is 1870, when travel to the west took a long time. As they are approaching their final destination, the stagecoach is held up. Elenora has a large sum of money she is bringing with her to buy into the business.
Tildy has been looking forward to new adventures with new people, unlike being with her grandfather, who was unresponsive to her. Elenora has been a widow a long time. She had spent time working for her father, who kept a tight rein on his daughter. When they arrive in El Dorado, life for the mother and daughter begins to take an interesting turn of events when they meet the owner advertising for a partner.
Mr. Watkins is surprised to see that E. F. Watkins is a female, and he is firm about not partnering with a female. His mother was the one who wrote the letters, and somehow neglected to tell her son of his future partner’s gender. When all attempts at the start to work with Mr. Watkins fail, Elenora must do what she can to provide for herself and Tildy. What is her solution to the refusal of Mr. Watkins?
Mr. Watkins has been married before to Irene, who brought nothing but pain into the marriage, and in time brought deep sorrow to her husband. Mr. Watkins, therefore, is unwilling to trust another woman who might do nothing but tell him what to do with his business. Yet, his mother takes some steps that seem to disagree with her son and change the outlook of El Dorado, but what does she do? Then, there are the concerts. What about the quality of these concerts? Are these just fiddling type tunes or a concert with an orchestra? Do Miles and Elenora share an adversarial relationship or is that just a cover for what is underneath?
A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado is a very relaxing, enjoyable book with a well-written story. No reader would be disappointed at the other events, actions, and other characteristics presented by the author.
My rating is 4 stars.

56 reviews1 follower
July 14, 2012
Author Keli Gwyn recreates the world of post-Civil War California with her new romance “A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California.” The novel features Elenora Watkins, a widowed mother and storekeeper from Omaha. Mrs. Watkins and her young daughter come to the town of El Dorado to become partners in a general mercantile store run by Miles Rutledge. Sparks fly when she arrives and learns he expected a man.

Gwyn has filled her story with wit and adventure. Mrs. Watkins forges a path into a male dominated business so that she can care for her daughter. Rutledge fights her every step of the way under the influence of previous relationship. Young Matilda Watkins charms everyone with her precocious chatter.

Many themes weave through the book. Gwyn uses each character’s foibles as a brush to paint another layer on the canvas of her story. She shows us how the past has shaped each one’s present. As the characters unfold, the reader becomes a part of a landscape that saw women coming into their own as individuals, communities coming together to fight emergencies and people looking to a higher power for guidance. With images of redemption, forgiveness and conciliation throughout the story, “Bride” is no lightweight fluff. This is a compelling historical romance with inspirational influences.

Historical novel lovers and Western fans will appreciate the book’s wealth of detail about life in the Sierra Foothills in 1870. Romance lovers will enjoy the misunderstandings and mistaken assumptions that keep the pair apart for most of the book. Women will appreciate the strong motivations driving Elenora Watkins. Musically inclined readers will delight in the role music plays in the town’s life.

I highly recommend “A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California” and look forward to Gwyn’s next outing.

This review is based on a copy of the book provided by the author. No constraints were placed upon its content. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Lisa.
Author 32 books112 followers
October 18, 2012
Gwyn’s charming story takes a delightful path to a wedding.

I do remember volunteering to read and review. But I thought I’d had enough of prairie romances for a while, and honestly let Keli’s heroine look at me for a couple of weeks after I received the book, while I tended to other business.

Romances work because they’re formulaic. The reader knows what’s going to happen; the pleasure is how the couple gets there. Gwyn’s story had a lot of fun elements, including the age of the characters: thirties; the fact that both were widowed and had a child; and the hero’s mom was a stitch.

Gwyn’s heroine, Mrs. Watkins, isn’t always likeable. She’s feisty to the point of illogic sometimes, competitive to a fault, but teachable. Her daughter, Tildy, is a delight and creates for some hysterical moments, especially when she’s wondering out loud when she can call our hero, Mr. Rutledge, “papa.” Mr. Rutledge is a self-admitted dandy, but generous to a fault, if not always kind. I found these characters refreshing, nicely different from the same-old damsel in distress and the perfect hero riding in to rescue her.

Mrs. Watkins has been offered a junior partnership in a mercantile business. Taking her nine-year-old daughter away from a difficult family situation and starting over in California seems like a good idea. Until she meets her partner, Mr. Rutledge, who’s been misinformed by his mother about the gender of his new partner, and the deal is off. She sets up shop across the street from him, and the battle is enjoined. The elderly Mrs. Rutledge and Tildy work both sides of the street with delight and excitement.

Told from both points of view with period-excellent details, readers of historical romance will find much to enjoy in this adorable romance. That is, if you don’t mind a little blood, heat exhaustion, and snakes.
Profile Image for Marji Laine.
Author 24 books347 followers
August 6, 2012
What a delightful story; three crying opportunities! LOL!

This book is propelled by its characters. And such characters! A widow/single mom with bull-dozing determination insists on proving her capabilities. A fastidious widower harboring a guilt-filled secret refuses to revisit the vulnerable position in which affection places him. An adoring mother whose meddling ways instigate complicated interaction. A talkative nine-year-old with the sincerity and wonder of one much younger, but the intellect and daring of one much older.

A Bride Opens Shop follows Elenora Watkins to the rather new California town of El Dorado where she finds disappointment, unwarranted suspicion, and discrimination. Rather than allowing the attitudes to defeat her, Elenora used them to strengthen her resolve to prove to the townspeople, and maybe more to herself, that she has the capabilities to accomplish her goal.

What I loved most about this book was the consistency of the characters. Not that they remain the same, both main characters complete a satisfying arc. But as they adjust and redirect, they stayed true to their personalities. For example, only a desperate emergency would persuade the always well-dressed Miles Rutledge to disregard his appearance.

In fact, Elenora stays so true to her character, she builds up regrets about it. I must say, during a special contest, I had hopes that she would step down rather than risk injury to someone else, but true to form, she can’t seem to shrink from a challenge.

These people seemed so real in their reactions, they make the reading easy, the changes believable, and the story an absolute gold mine, worthy of the name El Dorado!
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610 reviews31 followers
May 4, 2012
Elenora Watkins goes to California for a fresh start and hoping for a partnership with Miles Rutledge, proprietor of Rutledge Mercantile. But when she arrives, they're both in for a surprise: Miles's mother didn't let him know that his new partner was going to be a woman.

So starts A Bride Opens Shop, a somewhat misleading title as she's certainly not a bride at first. Elenora, left with few options in the face of Miles's rejection, opens her own mercantile across the street, and the competition is on. El Dorado is a thriving town, but is it big enough for the two of them?

I'll admit that the fierce competitive nature between the two of them, although tempered by genuine friendship and slowly growing feelings, bothered me occasionally. I'm not a generally competitive person and it seemed harsh once in a while. However Ms. Gwyn handles it deftly and makes Elenora and Miles incredibly likable characters.

The relationship between Tildy, Elenora's daughter, and Miles is particularly well-played. The interactions between these two are beautiful and sweet. The developing feelings between Ellie and Miles are also delightful to watch, so slow and cautious with each other, sure that the other couldn't possibly feel the same.

My favorite, though, was the ending. I won't give it away, but let me just say that I'm so glad to see that Miles finally didn't stick his foot in it, and Ellie finally accepted that God sometimes provides in unexpected ways.

[I received this book for free through First Reads and was not required to write a positive or any other type of review. All opinions stated herein are solely my own.]
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