A bright future awaits the women of courage and faith who boldly chase their dreams across the wide-open Montana Territory, prepared to embrace adventure and forge their own destinies . . .
When French immigrant Zoe de Fleur is forced out of her position as household cook for a high society New Yorker, the pretty and talented chef seizes an unexpected chance to head west for a new beginning. She pursues what she thinks is a prestigious job in the frontier’s “finest kitchen,” but instead finds herself in a matchmaker’s agency . . .
Isaak Gunderson is one of Helena, Montana’s most eligible bachelors, but he’s too focused on running for mayor and his family’s business to think about a wife and family. His twin brother, Jakob, is supposed to be too busy as well, yet sends for a mail-order bride anyway. Isaak doesn’t want to fuel an ongoing rivalry with his twin, but this tempting newcomer can’t be ignored. If only she’d come to Helena a different way and loving her wasn’t a betrayal . . .
About the Author
BECCA WHITHAM (WIT-um) Multi-published author, paper crafter, and Chai tea lover, Becca and her twelve-foot-long craft cabinet follow her husband of more than thirty years to wherever the army currently needs a chaplain. In between moves from one part of the country to the other, she writes stories of faith that touch the heart. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a Genesis Contest finalist. Connect with her online at BeccaWhitham.com.
Read an Excerpt
Manhattan Island, New York Wednesday, February 29, 1888
Her future rested upon one flawless meal.
Zoe de Fleur maintained a leisurely pace as she walked home from Central Park. Remains of last week's snow were still nestled in rooftop crevices and frost blanketed the grass. Birds chirped, on the hunt for food. Smells of roasting chestnuts. White plumes of smoke rose from newly stoked hearths. An icy breeze nipped at her likely reddened cheeks, reminding her that winter — and February — enjoyed an extra day this year.
The perfect leap year day for the perfect dinner.
She exhaled, creating a puff of cloud. How could she capture the morning's beauty in food? Not for tonight. She had no time to experiment. But for Easter. Meringue certainly.
And what else?
She strolled along the marble wall that encircled Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane's Fifth Avenue mansion, pondering future dessert ideas. While construction of new mansions could be seen up and down the avenue, this five-story white marble home on the corner had been for the last decade considered "almost too splendid for comfort."
Or so Zoe had been told.
Although she had spent her childhood and youth living in numerous European castles, the Crane house surpassed them all, in her estimation, because of its spacious and modern kitchen.
Meringue, marzipan flowers, and ... cake.
But what kind?
"Hey, Miss de Fleur, you want a paper?" Up ahead, Nico — and his red-tipped nose — stood on the street corner with his daily stock of newspapers in his cart ... and with that flat beige derby of his cocked jauntily to the side fitting his devil-may-care attitude.
"Not today," Zoe said as she always did. As she stopped next to him, she eyed the bandage on the fourteen-year-old's right hand. His knuckles were swollen. His face, though, bespoke no bruises, nor did he stand in pain as he had after last week's beating. "How are you zis morning?"
He grinned. "All to the merry, I say."
"Nico," she said, stretching out the vowels in his name to convey her displeasure.
"What?" came with a big cloud of breath.
"You know I dislike ..." She paused, trying to think of the right words in English. Façade faces? Emotion masks? "Fake cheer. Be honest with me about" — she pointed to the bandage — "zat."
His smile fell. He fisted his bandaged hand. "I fought back, all right. You told me I had to stand up for myself."
That she had.
Her advice had also come with encouragement to be the bigger man and walk away from the argument before it became physical. Or, even better, start a conversation to bring harmony, to understand the other person's feelings. Become friends. Not fight back. Never fight back, because fighting brought pain. Brought scars. Not all of which were physical.
"When I was a child" — she unwrapped the woolen scarf about her neck — "my papa said embarrassing a bully with words can be as effective as responding with fisticuffs. I did what he told me, and I was horrified because of how my words made ze other girl cry." She draped the scarf around Nico's neck. "How did hitting zat boy make you feel?"
Zoe clasped her gloved hands together. "Were his feelings hurt?"
Nico shrugged. "Don't care. I wanted him to stop pestering me." He shoved his hands in the pockets of his brown corduroy coat. "I'm not ever going to see him again anyway. I'm never going back to the orphanage. With all I've saved, I can buy a train ticket to California and ..."
Zoe nodded as he rambled on and on about his grand plans to start over out West. Open a saloon. Become a blacksmith or a trapper. Maybe even dig for gold. Or marry some rich old lady about to die. The poor boy had hopes and dreams enough for a score of orphans. If only half the stories he told about life in the orphanage were true, she would hate living there. In the last three years of Nico trying to sell her a paper, he had vowed at least twice a month that he would never return to the orphanage. And yet he had.
As he would today, too.
"Find me after you have sold your stock," she said, interrupting Nico's description of his future house and its six floors.
His blue eyes widened. "Can I taste what you're cooking for tonight?"
"No," she said, and then smiled and patted his shoulder. "Come to ze kitchen around eleven. I will make you hot cocoa, but you must be gone before Chef Henri arrives or he will have both our heads." She swiped her hand across her throat.
Nico's upper lip curled, enough of an action to clarify to Zoe what he thought of the renowned and current president of the Société Culinaire Philanthropique, who had an exclusive contract to cater any and all of Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane's parties. Unlike Papa and Chef Henri, Zoe could never become a member of the Société because she was female, a rule Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane called "a medieval practice." It bothered her greatly that Zoe could not claim the respectful title of chef, despite her French blood, despite following European tradition and apprenticing over a decade under her father's tutelage, and despite taking over Papa's job as chef for the Gilfoyle-Crane household.
If anyone should be offended, Zoe should be. And she was not. Changing the Société rules was tantamount to changing her sex. Impossible. Complaining would accomplish nothing.
Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane paid Zoe a salary equal to what Papa had earned, even though, at twenty-two, she had less than two years' experience managing a kitchen on her own.
At that thought, Zoe smiled. "Life is good here."
"For you it is." Nico's brow furrowed as he studied her. "Why are you always so happy?"
"I have much to be zankful for. God is good to me." She tugged his derby down over his red-tipped ears. "Be not late for lunch."
"You're swell, Miss de Fleur."
"Zis is true."
He laughed. "Don't let Chef On-ree convince you otherwise."
Zoe waved as she walked away. She turned down the alley behind the homes lining Fifth Avenue. As the BEZEE'S FLOWERS delivery wagon waited in front of the steps leading to the Crane house basement, which was only a little below street level, similar to the other nearby brownstones, the hired florist and her workers unloaded the profusion of flowers.
Zoe breathed in the fragrant air. Tonight's dinner guests would enjoy an ethereal and fragrant floral feast.
While the florist issued orders to her workers, Zoe silently slipped past them. She hurried down the five steps to the servants' entrance. Electric sconces brightened the narrow hall that, even in the full light of day, received no outside sun.
She stepped into the kitchen.
Mrs. Horton was adding a tea set to a tray. Nothing but crumbs remained of the breakfast scones, coddled eggs, and ham Zoe had prepared for those on staff.
"Good morning," she said, removing her gloves. She shrugged off her hat and winter cloak, then hung them on a wall peg. "Is zere anything I can do to help?"
To Zoe's relief, Mrs. Horton shook her head. "You have enough to do before Chef Henri and his crew arrives," she said with a fair amount of pity in her tone. She finished preparing a tea service. "The Nephew has requested his morning tea."
Zoe sighed. Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane's oldest nephew had a name — Manchester Gilfoyle IV — but, in private, the rest of the staff simply called him the Nephew. If Zoe were Mr. Gilfoyle, she would feel crushed to know she was so disliked. Of course, if she were Mr. Gilfoyle, she would be a more considerate person.
Mrs. Horton picked up the service tray. "I'll be back to check on you later."
"Zank you." As Mrs. Horton left the kitchen, Zoe claimed her freshly washed white apron from the peg next to her coat.
She looped the apron over her head, then wrapped it around her serviceable gray work dress. From the apron pocket, she withdrew a white kerchief, folded it into a triangle, and draped it over her curly black hair, knotting the ends at the base of her neck. Her uniform failed to testify to her skills. But if she were to wear Papa's double-breasted chef's coat and toque blanche ...
Chef Henri, in affront, would banish her from the kitchen.
She breathed deeply and slowly, as she always did to focus her mind on work. Tonight could not fail. She owed it to Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane.
After a quick cleaning of the remains from breakfast, Zoe sat at her office desk in the small room connected to the kitchen. In the center of her desk was the dinner menu Chef Henri had created with Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane's approval. Embossed gold font on Egyptian linen parchment. The writing was in French, even though the hostess could barely speak the language.
Zoe sighed. Oh, the irony.
Four dishes in the twelve-course meal were Zoe's creations. Not to Chef Henri's pleasure. He had conceded to Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane's request, although his outrageous fee would remain the same.
Chef Henri was greedy and arrogant and —
Worth none of Zoe's thoughts.
She opened the notebook Chef Henri's assistant, Chef Gerard — who constantly boasted he used to be a pâtissier in a shop near the Palais-Royal in Paris — had given her a month ago. He had listed what she needed to purchase, what she needed to have prepared ahead of their arrival, and what she needed to do during the four- hour meal to aid them as they cooked. Though detailed, his list was inefficient. Nor did it allot her time to prepare her four dishes. Why would anyone consider doing something in a way so obviously cumbersome and impractical?
Zoe grabbed her fountain pen. A few adjustments were necessary for a better flow for all. Content with the changes, she put down her pen. "Tonight will be a success," she muttered.
And then she went to work.
"You are a genius in the kitchen" came a husky voice, soft enough for Zoe to hear over the yelling and cooking noise from Chef Henri and his assistants.
She looked left and flinched in shock at how close the footman, Robert, stood to her. As she continued to whisk the egg whites, while holding the bowl at the perfect fifteen-degree angle, she took a step back to put more space between them. That she was an excellent chef was true. A genius? That had been her father.
Now was not the time to disagree with Robert's praise.
Every second of this evening mattered. Every second increased her taut nerves. She hated cooking in the same kitchen as Chef Henri, whose every look in her direction was icy and critical. Because he refused to allow the windows open, the kitchen temperature neared unbearable. He was quicksand to all the joy, pleasure, and beauty she usually experienced while cooking.
As long as he and his assistants continued to ignore her, she could endure the heat.
Zoe smiled at Robert, then nodded toward the platters of hors d'oeuvres to begin the dinner's third course. To achieve a successful twelve-course dinner in four hours in service à la russe, courses must be brought to the table in sequence. At the precise time.
Robert leaned against the counter as if he had all the time in the world. "While I was clearing the oyster platters, the talk was about the vinaigrette you'd made. The banker you asked me to observe wholeheartedly agreed."
Zoe's curiosity perked up. "Oh. What was said about ze soups?"
He shrugged. "What does it matter? You didn't make any."
"I wish to know."
"No one seemed overly impressed with any of them."
Not surprising. None of Chef Henri's soups had ever impressed her. If Papa were alive, elephant consommé would never have been put on the menu.
Zoe moistened her dry lips, then glanced down at the upside-down watch pinned to her apron's bib. One minute left to whisk the eggs and then she —
"Girl, where are the truffles?" Chef Henri bellowed in French, and Zoe flinched. He never spoke to her while catering a dinner. Nor had he said a word to her when Papa introduced them four years before.
Because Chef Henri behaved as if he was entitled to respect — but mostly because there was no person she disliked more — Zoe responded in English. "On ze supply shelf." Where all is organized alphabetically. Despite the ache in her arm, Zoe kept whisking the eggs into a stiff froth. "Go," she ordered Robert. To convey urgency, she motioned with her eyes to Mr. Peterson, the ever-punctual butler, who carried the third- course wine selection.
That was all it took to prod Robert into action. He grabbed two platters of hors d'oeuvres.
Zoe checked the time. Almost finished whisking.
"Find them for me!"
She jerked her attention to the center of the kitchen, where Chef Henri stood at the chopping block counter, preparing the filling for the roasted fowls. She waited for one of Chef Henri's assistants to aid him. Doing so was their job. At this point of the evening, her only responsibility was her three remaining dishes.
No one moved to help.
Zoe stopped whisking. She peeked at her watch and then at Chef Henri's glaring face and then to the bowl of perfectly stiffened egg whites she held. Now was the exact moment to add them to the cooled coffee mixture. Chef Henri was closer to the larder than she was. In three steps he could grab the truffles from —
He punctuated his "Now!" with fists pounding the chopping block. "Or you will never work in this city again!"
Every assistant stared at Zoe.
If she helped, her soufflÃ© would be ruined. If she disobeyed —
It is better to give an artist what he wants than to argue with him. Papa's admonishment echoed louder in her mind than any of the kitchen sounds.
Thus she set down the bowl of stiffened whites and went in search of truffles.
Sometime after midnight
Zoe dropped the scrubbing brush and covered her mouth with the back of her hand, shielding anyone from seeing her yawn. Not that anyone would. For the last hour, Chef Henri's assistants, in their bundled coats and scarves, sat outside on the benches under the basement windows, looking up to the street level, smoking, and sharing the remaining food and several bottles of wine from the dinner. They had no more concern for the evening temperature than they did for helping her clean the kitchen's disarray. At least the two footmen had helped with removing the trash.
She gripped the kettle in the sink and closed her eyes, taking a moment to rest. The dishwater was lukewarm. Once she finished washing the last of Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane's copper kettle, she needed to ... needed to ... to —
Her chin hit her chest. Zoe gasped and jolted awake. She stretched her eyes open, slapping her cheeks with her wet palms and shaking her head until the drowsiness passed. Now was not the time to fall asleep. She withdrew the last copper kettle from the dishwater, rinsed it, and then grabbed the drying towel.
The kitchen door opened.
"Miss de Fleur?" came Mr. Peterson's reserved voice. "Your presence is requested in the drawing room."
Zoe looked to where the impeccably dressed butler stood next to the kitchen's propped open door. How did he manage not to look tired? Like her, he had been awake since before dawn.
Leaving the kettle on the counter next to the plethora of washed dishes, she followed Mr. Peterson out of the kitchen.
They climbed the stairs to the main floor on ground level, then made their way down the marble hallway to the front of the house. Light from the crystal chandelier shone brightly in the drawing room. Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane sat in a chair by the crackling hearth. Brilliantly arrayed in diamonds and a pale oyster gown from the House of Worth, she looked as beautiful and pristine as she had when the dinner had begun — six hours ago!
Chef Henri sat on the gold velvet settee in front of the heavily draped double windows.
Zoe stepped into the room.
Chef Henri stood.
Zoe found her place on the Persian rug's center medallion.
Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane motioned for Chef Henri to leave the room.
He dipped his head in acknowledgment. As he passed Zoe, the corner of his mouth indented.
"I expected better from you," Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane announced the moment they were alone.
Zoe blinked, confident she had not heard correctly.
"Chef Henri explained everything, specifically your interaction with the footmen." Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane sighed.
That one breath conveyed all Zoe needed to know.
"Did my cooking meet your expectations?" Zoe asked, and hoped her tone did not sound desperate and insecure.
"Of course it did" — Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane shifted on the chair — "and that is why it devastates me to have to ask you to leave."
Zoe stared in shock.
Mrs. Gilfoyle-Crane strode to the hearth. Her gaze focused on the crackling flames, her hands clasped tight. "Your unimposing nature causes you to be overlooked and overpowered by others. Your father knew this ... and believed you had the skills to be one of the finest chefs in the country. Before he died, he asked me to help you rise to your potential." She regarded Zoe. "That is why I have put up the collateral you need to secure a loan for your own restaurant. I know your cooking rivals Chef Henri's."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Kitchen Marriage"
Copyright © 2018 Gina Welborn and Becca Whitham.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is book two in the Montana Brides Inspirational Romance and even though it can be read as a stand-alone, I admit that I was lost in some places. Therefore I recommend reading The Promise Bride First. I enjoyed the originality of a French mail order bride and it was interesting that a woman could not be called a chef at that time in history. Nico added a nice dimension to the story and his relationship with Zoe was heartwarming. The picturesque town of Helena makes you want to visit. An enjoyable read. I won a copy from Kensington Books. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
I liked this book quite a bit. I found the characters were well developed. They learned something in the end about themselves, especially Isaak Gunderson, the hero. This installment of the Montana Brides also, on the side, delves a bit into the mysteries in the previous book. However, a few of the mysteries are still a mystery. I liked the heroine, Zoe de Fleur, but wasn't very fond of Isaak through the beginning of the book. He is rather mean to Zoe. Well, you will see what I mean when you read the book. I do believe you should read it. I recommend it to anyone who likes clean, Christian, historical romance. I can hardly wait to read the next book, To Catch A Bride. I have only read these few books by these authors, but I like their style. They work well together and put out a nice read. Zoe de Fleur answers an ad in Denver, Colorado with the help of her young friend in New York. However, since she does not read or write English, he fails to tell her it is not for a household cook but from a Mail Order Bride agency. When she finds out and hears about Jakob Gunderson's profile, she decides to give it a try and signs a 60 day courtship contract. Jakob is pleased with the looks of Zoe and sweeps her off her feet. Then she meets his twin brother Isaak, who definitely does not sweep her off her feet. In fact, she does not like him and he takes a dislike to her simply because it has been reported in the newspapers that Mail Order Brides bilk many upstanding men out of their money. He fears that is what will happen to Jakob. He sets out to prove Zoe is a fraud. Sparks fly, but will love prevail? Will Zoe be able to prove to Isaak that she is not a fraud and genuinely cares for Jakob? Will Isaak believe her? Also, will the mysteries that surround Helena, Montana be revealed? Read for yourself and see. Enjoy! I won this book in a giveaway and was not expected to give a positive review. I voluntarily leave this review in my own words.
Sparks fly in the kitchen and in the heart... I've been looking forward to The Kitchen Marriage since I read book 1 in the Montana Brides Romance series last year. Within a few pages I was immersed in the lives of Zoe, a certain young rapscallion, and the equally charming and frustrating Gunderson brothers. The Kitchen Marriage was a lovely blend of sweet romance, a dash of humor, and a continuing thread of suspense. There were some real twists and turns in the story, not so much in the romance end but in the suspense thread, that left me quite surprised. One of the reasons that I really liked this book, and its predecessor, is that the authors consulted with one of most knowledgeable people at the Montana Historical Society, and it really shows in the quality of the historical details and sense of setting. The streets and people of New York, Denver, and especially Helena, Montana came alive under the talented hands of Gina Welborn & Becca Whitham. Gina Welborn & Becca Whitham make a great writing team, one that I enjoy quite a bit, and I am definitely looking forward to my next adventure with them in historic Helena, Montana... (I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are entirely my own.)
The Kitchen Marriage has a couple of unexpected twists and a mystery. It was enough to keep my interest and keep me turning pages. I won’t say what happened as I don’t want to spoil it, but do be on the lookout! This is the second book in a series, and while you can read it as a standalone I wouldn’t recommend it. I haven’t read book one and got lost periodically. But I always found my way back and enjoyed the story. I did find a few flaws with phrasing etc. and the time period but I could overlook them and become absorbed in the story. The characters were well defined. Some I really liked and others I didn’t, which is the way a good story should be. Not your typical romance, there was enough tension to make it interesting and keep me wondering. If you enjoy historical romance then I recommend giving this a read. I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.
I enjoyed The Kitchen Marriage. It took me a bit of time to sort out who everyone was in the book. I was fairly confused about some of the underhanded things going on in town that were hinted at. I think it might have helped to have read the first book in the series to understand some of the backstory. I enjoyed the mail order bride aspect of this book and the resulting relationship issues that developed between Zoe and the Gunderson brothers. The fact that Zoe was the focus between these two brothers added good tension to the story. All three characters grew a lot emotionally by the end of the book. I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Lovely story. Really enjoyable. I received a copy of this book from Celebratelit for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
The Kitchen Marriage I enjoy mail order bride stories and especially during this book in history. This one has a different version of mail order bride. Zoe just needs to find a home since was being kick out from where she lived. So, her and Nico travel across country to Helena, Montana. Nico is like a brother to her but read the book to find out more about him. Isaak and Zoe has quite an interesting time actually finding their way to each other. I loved the scene where she is getting a bunch of books in French from his resale shop. Of course, there is lot more to the story, this is also 2nd in the but a stand alone but appears the next one in the series will be more of a continuation. I definitely recommend reading this book. I received an complementary copy of the book from NetGalley through the publisher and Celebrate Lit. I was not required to write an positive review. This is my own opinion.
A story of matchmaking and mail order brides. It definitely took bravery and faith to chase dreams into the Montana territory. Zoe’s story is a wonderful adventure! Fun reading her French accent and ideas on cooking.. I was gifted a copy, no review was required. My review is voluntary...
A very different type of mail order bride story, especially when the perspective bride is lied to when she only reads French. Now who was the culprit who lied? Well, a delightful youngster who is very street smart, and becomes our Zoe’s unofficial brother, or a brother of the heart. This is the second book in this series that I have read, and as enjoyable as the first. When our Zoe arrives, she is pledged to a twin brother, one who seems to like her and the other thinks she is a gold digger. There is a theme of danger here, and if you read the first book you know what is happening, but if now there is enough information provided. Will Zoe find her happiness ever after? I found her speaking English with her French accent delightful, and she sure found food as a way into the hearts of the locals, but as you will see she needs to be careful of whom she trusts, not all are as they appear. Will Jakob wake up and see what a treasure he is being offered, and will Isaak wake up and realize whom Zoe really is? There are answers here, but there is also danger, and our girl is way too trusting and loving! A read you don’t want to miss, and yes, it can be read alone. I received this book through Celebrate Lit, and was not required to give a positive review.
I was hoping that the story would move faster as I read but for me it seemed to drag. I did like the idea of mail order brides as the theme. It seemed to be very popular during the time period of this story. Zoe is the main character of the book and I had a like/hate relationship with her. For some reason she bothered me with her over the top sugary personality or perhaps she went to Helene on false pretenses. She did have some redeeming qualities of caring for others and staying committed. Jacob is excited when he says Zoe. She was beautiful, graceful and I think he may have hit the jackpot. I did not feel any connection between him and Zoe through the entire story. At times the story seemed to drag and become repetitive. When Jacob's twin brother enters the story I had figured out what would happen. Isaac is very different from his brother. Isaac is arrogant, rude and just plain unfriendly. I wanted to know more about Jacob, but the story seemed to focus on Isaac more. That confused me since the book was about a mail order bride which Jacob was looking for. I didn't like all the deceit going on between characters and hoped for more of how Jacob comes to court Zoe to woe her over. I wanted the story to not focus so much on how beautiful Zoe was. It was almost prideful to read that because she was beautiful she would make the perfect bride. The story does pick up towards the end and I enjoyed the intrigue that developed as we learn of something illegal going on in the town. I was pleased with who Zoe ended up with, but it was a bit obvious with the not so subtle hints throughout the book. Overall a pleasant read, but a little long winded at times. I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
Zoe de Fleur, a kitchen cook, finds herself without a job when a male chef takes issue with her and forces her employer to fire Zoe. Without any recourse, her young friend Nico convinces Zoe to go west to become a chef at a hotel. Because Zoe is French and cannot read English well, she embarks on a journey laced with deception. Rather than sending her to become a chef, her actual destination involves matrimony. Also, Nico fails to mention that he plans on coming west as well. Living in today's time, I felt incredible sympathy for Zoe being forced from her job as well as her home only because a man decided she needs to go. Isaak and Jakob Gunderson are twin brothers who are nothing alike. Both are strong-minded and determined. Unbeknownst to Isaak, Jakob sends for a mailorder bride, namely Zoe de Fleur. Isaak's immediate dislike for Zoe is understandable, but not appreciated by his brother or Zoe. Of the three characters, I have to say I liked Zoe the best. She was down-to-earth, charming and incredibly giving. From the moment Jakob comes into the story along with Isaak, I felt that Jakob was the wrong man for Zoe. The story seemed to slow down at parts while capturing my interest and attention at other parts. I found Jakob to be somewhat petulant, irresponsible, and at times annoying. At the same time, I found Isaak to be condescending and rude to Zoe. Once it became clear Isaak and Zoe were meant to be together, I could not wait for them to realize that fact. One of my absolute favorite things in this story is reading about Zoe cooking and her use of herbs and other items in her cooking. I also enjoyed reading about Zoe's relationship with her father before he died. The attention to detail in these sections captured my attention and my heart. By the end of the story, I had fallen in love with the idea of Zoe, Isaak, and Nico becoming a family. But I found myself distracted by the extra characters in the background plotting, scheming and otherwise attempting to cause problems without having any real details about what was actually going on. Having not read the first book in this series, I have to wonder if I would have benefited from reading it first. This book is definitely not a stand-alone book, I feel anyone reading it needs to read any and all other books in the series to truly grasp what is going on with the overall story. I do recommend reading this book, but I recommend reading it in context. Otherwise, you may find yourself as frustrated as I did about not knowing the whole story. Still, I have to say the authors did an excellent job capturing the mood of the time and the potential difficulties and traumas that could result from choosing to order or to become a mailorder bride
Carpe diem - seize the day. This motto fit Zoe very well, who because she was female, was known as a home cook, even though she was a Paris trained chef. Having left Paris for New York City, it wasn't difficult to seize the opportunity to head west to seek her dreams. A mail-order bride was not what she had in mind, but it seemed to be the right ting to do at the time. Read on to find a story of twin brothers always trying to best each other, lies, intrigue, family and maybe even love. This was my first book in this series, and I throughly enjoyed my introduction and am looking forward to more. I received this ebook through CelebrateLit and this review gives my personal impressions and opinions.
This was a great read. I really enjoyed this story line. From the beginning we get to know these characters and their desires. I loved that there was a mystery character thrown in and we don’t know who it is, but we get to hear his or her thoughts and they aren’t good. That adds some tension to the book. It was such an intriguing plot because Jakob was a nice guy and you want things to work out for him but by reading the backcover you know there could potentially be a twist that could really hurt him. Overall, a very enjoyable read. A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own.
This was my first introduction to the Montana Brides Romance series by Gina Welborn and Becca Whitham. I admit that the beginning was quite confusing to me at first because of the introduction of a slew of characters all at once. Being new to the series, I found it hard to follow for a bit, but once I got into the story, I found it quite delightful. I loved the French heroine and was rooting for her to find her heart's desires. While both of these authors were new to me, they are ones that I will look to read again. While this book was provided for free, I was not obligated in any way to write a positive review, that pleasure was mine - 2018.
A deeply satisfying story. It's great to return to Helena and these characters. It was nice to get to know Jacob and Isaac Gunderson better, and a pleasure to meet Zoe and Nico. This reminded me somewhat of the old Hardy movies. (I think I heard Maurice Chevalier's voice as Zoe's Papa.) Zoe has both tenderness & tender strength, and is a smart French chef. Her adopted little brother Nico's deception brings her to Jacob as a mail order bride, and they all get to know each other during the time allotted in their contract. She is very shy, which is misinterpreted as a sign of weakness by some. The closeness of the town residents combined with an undercurrent of secrets and danger make it hard to put down, and it's one that I hated to see end. Thankfully there's more to be told so another book will be coming! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher and Netgalley book review bloggers program. 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 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Isaak and Jakob Gunderson are twins who have spent their lives as each other’s best friend in spite of their competitive nature toward one another. They have a great relationship, or so it seems until Zoe de Fleur, a young woman who comes to Montana thinking she is going to have a job as a chef but in actuality is a mail-order bride, enters their lives. It was great fun to watch the word play between the three of them. This is a story of two brothers and a girl, of them coming into their own, realizing what is most important in life and how they ought not to make comparisons between themselves and others. They each have a lot to learn! There is a proposal scene (not a spoiler) that I found to be hilarious. I was actually sitting outside at the time, and laughed out loud. Then a few moments later I was engrossed in another scene that had me voicing my thoughts about a certain no-good woman. My neighbors probably think I am crazy since I was the only one on the porch. Several other characters wormed their way into my heart too and I hope to see them make a cameo in the next book. It was great fun getting a glimpse of Mac and Emilia after their honeymoon. They are the hero and heroine of The Promise Bride (Montana Brides #1). I recommend reading their story first to get the full palate of characters and backstory. This is a clean and inspirational read with a light element of faith so I think any fan of historical romantic fiction will enjoy this story. The authors have suffused The Kitchen Marriage with abundant humor, familial bonds that ring true-to-life and a mystery of the most surprising nature. I just closed the book and I am all astonishment at the last line. An identity has been revealed and it is a shocker, at least to me. I was provided an advanced uncorrected proof of the book from one of the authors. No review required. No compensation received.
Zoe loses her private chef job in New York City because of a jealous rival, and her employer knows there’s no basis to his claim. Her friend, Nico, reads her an advertisement for a chef in Denver. They head west, and she discovers Nico lied. The ad was placed by a mail order bride agency. Zoe is a French immigrant who speaks English well, but always uses ze, zis, and zat. She also doesn’t read English, hence she falls for Nico’s lie. She wants to marry and have a family, so she goes to meet the agency’s prospective husband. So intent on her dream, she’s enthralled by Jakob Gunderson, who’s trying to impress her. A lot of the characters were living a lie. I had a hard time being enthralled by any of them, and sped-read. I received a complimentary copy for my honest opinion, and I must say I have no inclination to read the first book in this Montana Brides series.