Colleen Reece has written a pair of rollicking novels taking place on the frontiers of Wyoming in the post-Civil War era. Mountain Laurel--more often known as Laurel--has grown up in her twin sister's shadow. Ivy Ann is more vivacious, more flirtatious, and more socially adept all the way around. Laurel is happy in her quietness, but lurking inside Laurel is a spark of adventure that longs to see more of the country than just their West Virginia home. When Adam Birchfield shows up at the family's mansion and hears Laurel express her desire to follow her husband (should she ever have one) wherever he'd go, he applauds her adventurous thinking.
This is how Wildflower Harvest begins. With a generous helping of humor, Colleen creates a story that takes the reader on a spontaneous adventure to find love. Laurel just has to overcome Ivy Ann's duplicity of pretending to be her.
Included with this book is the story Desert Rose, who is the daughter of Laurel and Adam. Taking on a dare by her cousin Nate, she puts an ad in a magazine for a "Mail Order Husband." Nate sends her ad to a teacher he had at the boarding school back in Massachusetts. With the beginnings of a pen-pal romance, Carmichael Carey Blake-Jones decides to buy a ranch in Antelope, Wyoming, and go incognito as a ranch hand to learn how to run his ranch. In the meantime, he's still writing to Desert Rose and he's falling in love with her.
While Wildflower Harvest kept my attention all the way through, Desert Rose seemed a bit predictable because some of the elements are repeated from Wildflower Harvest. Nevertheless, both are good reads, and maybe the reader needs to take a break between the two books to come back to Desert Rose fresh. Four Strong Stars.
My thanks to Barbour Books for allowing me to read and review this book.