Bantam, Jul 2002, 5.99, 336 pp.
In 1888 Silverwind, Colorado, the town's citizens are tired of males fighting over beautiful schoolteacher Melissa Grayson. The latest melee occurs as people go to church resulting in the mayor's son being shot by a ricocheting bullet that hit the church bell first. The townsfolk inform Melissa she either marry someone immediately or go to jail for attempted murder since she fired the shot that accidentally hit the lad. Desperate to continue running her deceased father's academy and to avoid jail or marriage to the locals, she sends a telegram to her telegraph pal sickly James Pickney asking if he would marry her though they never met. James accepts this chance for the adventure he always was too ill to try.
In Santa Fe, gambler Lucky Lawrence rescues Louisa Hidalgo from nasty Cerqueda, but by doing so he has made himself a deadly persistent enemy. Lucky needs to hide until his foe forgets him so when he is mistaken for James he accepts the role and marries Melissa, rationalizing his deception as assisting a damsel in distress. Soon a comedy of errors filled with love occurs even as Cerqueda plans to correct his failure.
THE MAIL ORDER GROOM is an entertaining Americana romance that wildly westernizes Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors. The characters with their distinct personalities make the story line as readers appreciate the deep cast that stars three sets of couples though much of the plot focuses on the real Lucky-Melissa. Sandra Chastain provides an engaging novel so that those lucky enough to read the novel will recognize the author's talent.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner