The Pony Express Romance Collection: Historic Express Mail Route Delivers Nine Inspiring Romances

The Pony Express Romance Collection: Historic Express Mail Route Delivers Nine Inspiring Romances


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683221173
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/01/2017
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 659,335
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Barbara Tifft Blakey lives in the Pacific Northwest on five wooded acres with Terry, her husband of forty-plus years. She is best known for her award-winning, literature-inspired, language arts program, Total Language Plus, which she created over twenty years ago, and is used by thousands of homeschoolers. Barbara teaches Sunday school and enjoys speaking on various topics to Christian women’s groups. She and her husband have four grown children and five grandchildren. She enjoys camping at the ocean and is an avid soccer fan. During the day-light challenged winter months, she reads, crochets, bakes, and plots her next novel.

MARY DAVIS is an award-winning author of over a dozen novels in both historical and contemporary themes, four novellas, two compilations, and three short stories, as well as being included in various collections. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is active in two critique groups.

Mary lives in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with her husband of over thirty years and two cats. She has three adult children and one grandchild. She enjoys playing board and card games, rain, and cats. She would enjoy gardening if she didn’t have a black thumb. Her hobbies include quilting, porcelain doll making, sewing, crafts, crocheting, and knitting.

Bestselling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont. You can find Darlene online at

Cynthia Hickey grew up in a family of storytellers and moved around the country a lot as an army brat. Her desire is to write about real, but flawed characters in a wholesome way that her seven children and five grandchildren can all be proud of. She and her husband live in Arizona where Cynthia is a full-time writer.

Maureen Lang writes stories inspired by a love of history and romance. An avid reader herself, she’s figured out a way to write the stories she feels like reading. Maureen’s inspirationals have earned various writing distinctions including the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, a HOLT Medallion, and the Selah Award, as well as being a finalist for the Rita, Christy, and Carol Awards. In addition to investigating various eras in history (such as Victorian England, First World War, and America’s Gilded Age), Maureen loves taking research trips to get a feel for the settings of her novels. She lives in the Chicago area with her family and has been blessed to be the primary caregiver to her adult disabled son.

Debby Lee was raised in the cozy little town of Toledo, Washington. She has been writing since she was a small child, and has written several novels, but never forgets home. The Northwest Christian Writers Association and Romance Writers of America are two organizations that Debby enjoys being a part of. As a self professed nature lover, and an avid listener of 1960's folk music, Debby can't help but feel like a hippie child who wasn't born soon enough to attend Woodstock. She wishes she could run barefoot all year long, but often does anyway in the grass and on the beaches in her hamlet that is the cold and rainy southwest Washington. During football season, Debby cheers on the Seattle Seahawks along with legions of other devoted fans. She's also filled with wanderlust and dreams of visiting Denmark, Italy, and Morocco someday.  Debby loves connecting with her readers through her website at

Donna Schlachter lives in Colorado, where the Wild West still lives. She travels extensively for research, choosing her locations based on local stories told by local people. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime, and facilitates a local critique group. One of her favorite activities is planning her next road trip with hubby Patrick along as chauffeur and photographer. Donna has published 12 books under her own name and that of her alter ego, Leeann Betts, and she has ghostwritten five books. You can follow her at and on Facebook at or Twitter at

CONNIE STEVENS lives with her husband of forty-plus years in north Georgia, within sight of her beloved mountains. She and her husband are both active in a variety of ministries at their church. A lifelong reader, Connie began creating stories by the time she was ten. Her office manager and writing muse is a cat, but she’s never more than a phone call or email away from her critique partners. She enjoys gardening and quilting, but one of her favorite pastimes is browsing antique shops where story ideas often take root in her imagination. Connie has been a member of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2000.

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” When not working on her latest novel, Pegg can be found in her garden, in her kitchen, with her sheep, at her spinning wheel, or on her trusty old horse, Trooper. See more at

Read an Excerpt

The Pony Express

Romance Collection

By Barbara Tifft Blakey, Mary Davis, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Dehby Lee, Maureen Lang, Donna Schlachter, Connie Stevens, Pegg Thomas

Barbour Publishing, Inc

Copyright © 2017 Barbara Tifft Blakey
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-68322-117-3


Abigail Robertson shaded her eyes against the sun's glare in the blue-white Nevada sky. Sweat trickled down the sides of her face and the middle of her back. Flies buzzed. She swatted one away then repositioned herself on the woven mat, relaxing her crossed legs. On one side next to her lay a stout walking cane, and on the other, her deceased mother's sketchbook, the pages open to a scene far different from the one Abigail drew.

Her mother's depicted a two-story log cabin nestled among trees, with snow- covered mountains rising in the distance. Abigail imagined it was their home before they'd headed west, before gold fever struck her father, before the horrific accident that left her an orphan. Someday she'd find a way to return to it.

She opened to a clean page in her nearly full sketchbook and considered this view of the ranch. She'd never drawn the barn in this light. Each rock in the stone walls stood out more sharply, the shadows creating new angles.

And then something — someone — moved in the shadow. If the movement hadn't been so quick, it might not have caught her attention. She squinted to see better. Three. There were three somebodies crouched low, running along the back wall. Paiutes? But why? They were welcome on the ranch. How many times had she given them doughnuts and cookies right from the kitchen door? They weren't exactly friends, but certainly not enemies.

She rose from the mat to get a better view. Her movement must have caught the intruders' attention, for one stood and pointed her way. He drew an arrow into his bow. Her heart skipped; her throat constricted. She dropped to the ground. No arrow whizzed past. She lifted her head, but they were out of sight.

She had to warn her uncle! She rose and waved her arms high back and forth. "Uncle Frank! Sammy! Jacob!"

Continuing to yell, she hobbled toward the ranch. Her too-short right leg made running risky, but she willed herself forward with as much speed as she could muster. "Uncle Frank! Sammy!" she called again.

Were other Paiutes hiding, waiting to ambush? She glanced from one side to the other. What was that sound behind her? She chanced a look backwards, tripped over a rock, and fell face-first into a tumbleweed.

She struggled to rise, pushing herself up from the prickly bush, wishing she'd grabbed her walking stick. Her legs tangled with her skirt. She kicked to free them. Boots thudded on the desert floor toward her, then Uncle Frank lifted her. Jacob was a step behind.

"What's wrong, Abby?" Her uncle's gun was already drawn. "A rattler?" He scanned the area. "Did you get bit? Didn't you bring your pistol with you? I've told you and told you not to leave the ranch yard without it."

Abigail gasped for breath as she pointed to the barn. "They were there. Running along the wall. I think they're after the horses."

"What? Who?" Uncle Frank pulled his hat low and surveyed the spaces around the barn.

Horse hooves galloping on the hard dirt drew their attention. Six mustangs raced away from the ranch, three of them mounted by Paiutes.

Uncle Frank aimed his revolver, but didn't shoot. They were out of range. "Blasted thieves."

Abigail tugged on his arm. "Shouldn't we go after them?"

"By the time we get to the corral and on horses, those renegades will be long gone."

"I thought we were on good terms with Chief Winnemucca. He wouldn't raid our horses." Abigail brushed off her skirt. "They haven't taken a calf in years."

"They don't take our beef because we keep the few we have left close by, and I give them a steer every year." He put his hands on his hips. "Besides, Winnemucca's dead. The new high chief is Numaga, and he's eager to fight."

Jacob handed Abigail her walking stick. "There've been rumors of raids against Pony Express riders. The boys have fast, strong ponies, and so far they've escaped trouble. But if the Paiutes are stealing Express horses, the riders won't have such an advantage any."

"You're right, Jacob." Uncle Frank rubbed his stubbled chin. "We've got to figure out a way to protect those ponies."

"Maybe if we had a dog, we'd at least have some warning." How many times had Abigail suggested this? Sammy wanted one in the worst way.

Uncle Frank huffed. "No dogs. They chase chickens."

As they headed back to the ranch, Abigail did her best to keep up with her uncle's long stride, aware of once again being a burden to him. It was a constant concern to her. He obviously wanted to return to the ranch quickly, and her limp slowed him down. It was always in the way, preventing her from being useful, adding to his burdens. She couldn't carry a bucket of water without sloshing half of it over the rim. Sammy had to carry the dinner trays for her.

Soon after her parents died when she was six, she heard Uncle Frank pray in a pain-filled voice, asking God to give him strength to carry his burdens. It was eleven years ago, and she couldn't remember everything he asked help for, but she'd never forgotten his agony-laced tone when he prayed, "Dear God, I don't know how to do this. My son, Sammy, poor Abby. What am I to do? Help me, God."

Exertion to keep up left her out of breath as sweat beaded on her forehead. She hated holding her uncle back. "Go on ahead." She glanced from Jacob to Uncle Frank. "I'm fine to come on my own."

Uncle Frank nodded and increased his pace, but Jacob walked along with her until they reached the low stone house. His presence shamed her. She was not a child in need of a guardian, but she held her feelings inside. He meant well.

Outside the kitchen door, Jacob handed Abigail the rest of her possessions. "I wish you'd listen to your uncle. You shouldn't be out there without a gun." He turned and headed toward the barn.

She watched him go, wondering at his little speech. Jacob had come to the ranch about two years ago. Her uncle needed the help then, and even more now with the Pony Express business, so she was thankful he was around, but he kept to himself and rarely addressed her. Why lecture her now? She shook her head. There was no figuring men out.

Earlier she had put a pot of rabbit stew on the cookstove to simmer and set out dough to rise. It was time to get the bread baked and the table set before the stagecoach arrived and the place exploded with weary and hungry travelers. They'd stay the night, along with another Pony Express rider.

Her uncle's ranch served as home base, and the boys could rest up a day or two in the bunkhouse before their next turn at the relay. The stagecoach guests slept in the bunkhouse as well. The occasional woman passenger slept in the spare bedroom next to Abigail's. The ranch hadn't much to offer in the way of creature comforts, but Abigail did what she could to provide delicious, hearty meals. It was more than travelers got at most stage stops.

"Sam!" Uncle Frank's voice pulsed through the air. "Where is that fool boy when I want him?"

Uncle Frank headed toward the corral, but if Abigail knew Sammy, he wouldn't be there. He'd be in the bunkhouse with the riders, listening to a tale of adventure and derring-do. It was all new and exciting to him. Before his admiration of the Express boys, he'd wanted to be a stagecoach driver. Before that, a gunslinger. But, Abigail reasoned, thirteen-year-old boys didn't really know much what they wanted.

She headed toward the bunkhouse. Sammy had been warned not to bother the riders, and if his father found him there, he'd get switched. Uncle Frank was a good, God-fearing man who believed in obedience and discipline. He'd never been cruel, but no one would accuse him of being soft.

She knocked on the bunkhouse door then opened it. The room was quiet as two riders slept. She backed out.

A shout from Jacob rang loud. "Hey, boss, come quick!"

The tone of his voice stabbed Abigail's heart with fear. She limped as quickly as she could toward the barn. Jacob had someone in his arms. She saw an arrow, blood, and Sammy's blond hair.


Jacob Scott pitched more hay for the horses then gave them a scoop of oats. Their speed and endurance would be in demand shortly, and he wanted to make sure they were ready. The mustang would be needed first, as the Pony Express relay would happen near dinnertime. But even the Thoroughbreds and quarter horses required strength and staying power to pull the stagecoach across the Sierra Nevada Mountains into California.

He had thought about going to California himself. He could hitch a ride on the stagecoach or ride on top as a lookout. Or maybe he should go southeast. There was talk of some southern states seceding, which would mean war, and possibly the Lord had a mission for him there. He wished he knew. He thought he had heard the Lord clearly when he left home four years ago, but that hadn't turned out so well.

As a result, he had wasted the last two years on this ranch, or stagecoach station, or whatever it was, in the middle of nowhere. He shook his head. The years hadn't been actually wasted, but he was no clearer about what the Lord had in store for him than when he arrived. After his last debacle before coming to the ranch, he wanted to be sure of his next move. What was that saying? Look before you leap? No more blind leaping for him.

He enjoyed the ranch work. He liked the feel of burning muscles and honestly earned sweat. He appreciated that he was needed. And he was. Especially now with the added burden of the Pony Express home base. Frank Robertson wasn't too old for the work, but he was getting on, and he needed more than a half- grown, dreamy-eyed son and an orphan niece to run the place.

Although, that orphan niece, Abigail — she did more than her share, for sure and for certain. When he first met her, he pitied her limp, but now he rarely noticed it. Jacob smiled at the thought of her. She'd make somebody a good wife. Wife! The word sent shock waves through him.

Good thing he wasn't looking for one.

He turned the rest of the horses into the corral and went back to muck the stalls. As he worked, he prayed. He prayed for forgiveness for himself, then for blessings for Abigail, Frank, Sammy, the stagecoach drivers, and the young men riding the Express horses. As people entered his mind, he prayed for them. His parents, his sister, the Paiutes — really, Lord? "Well, okay, God bless the Paiutes."

"What did you say?" Sammy stood in the barn door.

Jacob smiled. "Well, Samuel Robertson, nice of you to show up. Thought you were off daydreaming about dashing away on one of these ponies, facing danger at every turn."

"I told you I'd help muck the stalls." Sammy folded his arms across his chest and glared.

"And here you are." Jacob grimaced inwardly. He shouldn't tease the boy. He knew what it was like to try to find your way in the world, and dreams were the jumping-off place.

He leaned against the pitchfork and let his eyes roam across the barnyard. Abigail was walking away from the kitchen, carrying that book she was never without. A breeze flirted with her skirts, but she seemed not to notice. He wished he had the nerve to talk to her, but it felt as if she didn't see him. Not like she did the stagecoach drivers. And definitely not like the Express riders. She stared sometimes, from that dark corner of hers in the dining room, as if memorizing their features.

He wasn't jealous. Okay, he was. But he'd been there two years, and she'd barely noticed him. Not that it would have mattered. He was sticking to his plan to wait for the Lord to reveal His plan, and he was certain it didn't involve a pretty, young woman. Paul's words in the Good Book warned against marrying, said it could get in the way of serving, and he intended to serve God with all his might. He turned his attention back to the boy waiting in the doorway. "I can finish up here, Sammy. How about you go collect more cow chips for the kitchen stove."

"You ain't my boss."

Apparently he was still smarting over the ill-timed teasing. "You're right, I'm not. So what would you prefer to do, the mucking or the plucking?" Jacob laughed at his own word choice, hoping Sammy would think it funny as well.

"Plucking?" Sammy laughed. "You're strange, Jacob. But, yeah, I'll get more cow chips for Abby." He disappeared, and Jacob leaned into his work. Although not quite noon, the day was already hot. Hoping to catch more of the breeze, he opened the barn's back door. His gaze swept across the dry, rocky land. Scattered Joshua trees offered interest to the ubiquitous sagebrush. A vast expanse stretched out before him. Near the rocky outcropping sat Abigail.

Why did she go out there almost daily? Her head was bent, intent on something in her lap. Probably the book. Was it her diary? He would like to know what was written there. Not to pry, but to understand her better. What was it about those other men that caught her attention? He'd like to know.

As he turned back toward the barn, he caught movement from the corner of his eye. He turned his head for a full view, but saw nothing. Several horses stamped and whinnied. Something was wrong.

Perhaps a mountain lion had ventured too close to the ranch again. He spoke soothingly to the nervous ponies while he continually scanned the brown landscape. Mountain lions blended in, perfectly camouflaged. If one were out there, he should warn Abigail. Something had definitely stirred up the horses.

Suddenly, she stood, waving her arms and shouting, but he couldn't make out her words. A mountain lion? A rattler? He raced toward her, saw her fall. His heart rate quickened; his throat constricted. Was she hurt? Coming from a different angle, Frank sprinted closer to her.

Abigail lay unmoving on the desert floor. As Jacob pushed himself to run faster, he prayed. "Gracious Father, please help her. Don't let her be hurt."

When Frank helped her stand, Jacob slowed his pace. Then he stopped as her words became clear. Paiutes near the barn! That's what unsettled the livestock! How had he not seen them? He turned at the sound of pounding hooves. Six ponies gone.

At least Abigail was unharmed.

"Here." He handed her the walking stick. He had carved it for her out of a sparse, old juniper tree, worked hard to smooth its surface so her palms wouldn't blister. That she liked it he had no doubt. She used it constantly.

As his boss and Abigail headed for the ranch, Jacob picked up her mat, the book, and a pencil. Holding the book in his hand tempted him to let a few pages flop open. If he could get a peek at what mattered to her, he would know how to get her attention. He rebuked himself for the impulse and pinched the book tightly closed.

Outside the kitchen, he handed back her things.

"Thank you, Jacob." She smiled at him.

Did she have any idea how heavenly blue her eyes were? How sweet her face? He meant to smile back, but instead uttered words of warning. "I wish you'd listen to your uncle ..."

Her smile vanished in a blink. Her eyes lost their glow.

But she should listen to her uncle. This was dangerous territory. Jacob headed back to the barn. He caught up with his boss. "Sammy's out collecting cow chips."

Frank stared in the direction the Indians had gone. "He was supposed to fill the water trough first thing this morning. He didn't do it. I want it done now."

"I'll fetch him." Jacob picked up his pace. He would have offered to fill the trough himself, but he'd tried that before and only succeeded in further irritating his boss.

The boy had a bad case of wanderlust, and no amount of scolding was going to alter that, but Frank didn't see it. In his view, a boy should do his chores. Do them right. And if he didn't, there was always the switch. Life was all about work to Frank, and he had no patience for a boy struggling to find himself. Jacob could see the wedge building between father and son and prayed for wisdom about how to dispel it.

He topped a rise then descended into a gully where the cattle grazed on the little foliage that grew along a dry creek bed. What was that bundle off to the left? Jacob squinted his eyes to see better. Heat waves distorted the scene. A hurt calf? He jogged closer, realized it was Sammy, and raced to him. "Dear Lord," he prayed aloud. "Not Sammy. Oh, Lord, help us."


With the weight of Sammy in his arms, Jacob stumbled across the barnyard.

From the corner of his eye he saw Abigail, then he heard her wail, "No!"

She led the way into the kitchen, then into her own room, and motioned for Jacob to follow. "Put him on my bed. He'll be more comfortable."

Jacob pushed a pillow to the side and settled the wounded boy flat on his back. All the while he repeated a silent prayer. Dear Father, let him live. Please let him live.


Excerpted from The Pony Express by Barbara Tifft Blakey, Mary Davis, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Dehby Lee, Maureen Lang, Donna Schlachter, Connie Stevens, Pegg Thomas. Copyright © 2017 Barbara Tifft Blakey. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
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.

Table of Contents


A Place to Belong,
An Unlikely Hero,
The Gambler's Daughter,
Her Lonely Heart,
My Dear Adora,
Ride into My Heart,
Echoes of the Heart,
Abundance of the Heart,
Embattled Hearts,

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The Pony Express Romance Collection: Historic Express Mail Route Delivers Nine Inspiring Romances 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
lolly-pops 8 months ago
a collection that should appeal to those who like westerns. Romances were weak in most cases and well, it was a very active read in some stories. Draggy in others.
wfnren More than 1 year ago
LOVE these collections books! Every time I read one of these 'collections' books, it reminds me of why I enjoy them so much. Anywhere from four to nine short stories usually, all around the same focus but not connected. I find new authors to watch for and great writers. Of course there are some stories that I like better than others, that is not saying the others are not good, and I am sure other readers may probably like others better than my choices, that is what is so great about these books. Yes, I highly recommend this book!
CarolJo More than 1 year ago
Horse lovers, Pony Express fans, midwest history fans, this book is for you! The book deals more with life at waystations than the riders. If you enjoy novellas set in the 1800s, you will like this book. I learned a lot about the dangers faced by people at the waystations which were usually rather isolated. This is a good book to read when you only have a short time to read one of the novellas. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Echoes of the Heart by Donna Schlachter. I received my copy of The Pony Express Romance Collection from Maureen Lang. This is my honest opinion.
D-does-reviews More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of American historical romance and this collection features larger than life adventures during the relatively short time period when mail and documents were delivered by young male orphans who rode for the Pony Express. It was a dangerous proposition for both the rider and the horse when so many things could and did go wrong due to bad weather, illness and unscrupulous criminals or Indian attacks. I truly enjoyed the creative storytelling of all these fine authors and I was equally pleased and impressed with the wealth of historical details they shared that made this period of our nation's history come alive for me on every single page. I read a complimentary copy of this book and all opinions expressed in my voluntary review are completely my own.
Lane_Hill_House More than 1 year ago
Saturday, April 1, 2017 The Pony Express Romance Collection ~ Barbara Tifft Blakey, Mary Davis, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Maureen Lang, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Connie Stevens, Pegg Thomas, © 2017 Historic Express Mail Route Delivers Nine Inspiring Romances What could be more fun than joining the Wild West and the NINETEEN-month Pony Express?? New News! received from Maureen Lang. I was surprised to find the short-lived Express ~ perhaps safer than the train robberies, the stagecoach holdups, and who knows what else ~ especially when they knew the mail pouch contained long-awaited pay by many. Merely my speculation! I will be highlighting My Dear Adora written by author Maureen Lang ~ thank you for honoring me with a copy of The Pony Express Romance Collection, Maureen!! Setting Time Period San Francisco ~ Spring, 1862 My Review Adora Denley had arrived at her destination months earlier, but due to an accusation of duplicity and an unsavory announcement of her character, she is erroneously let go from her employment and... livelihood. Thankful for the harboring at Miss Roseleen's Boardinghouse, she is taught kitchen skills to alleviate Roseleen's duties. A shelter from the storm of life. Chip Nolan had hunted down a stolen mochila, the saddle pack filled with mail that Lewy, his little brother, had been carrying as a Pony Express rider. Assured he would uphold his brother's name with Lewy being left for dead, Chip was finally about to complete his deliveries. Upon arriving in San Francisco, he was now at his last stop, finding a Miss Adora Denley. Appearing dandy Dirk Stanford has arrived ahead of Chip Nolan and has indebted himself to the aid of Miss Denley's social standings. He has encouraged her that he is just the one who can bring her peace and security by staying by his side for now and the future. An unriddling is set when the newest boarder arrives. Returning Jed Malone; he had been among the first of the forty-niners. I always like it when a stabilizer comes along to set things straight toward what is right. The Mochila: detail from Pony Express a mochila, or covering of leather, was thrown over the saddle I really liked this novella! I am eager to read the remaining eight stories. ***This review was written in my own words. No other compensation, besides adventure, was received.***
WildflowerMom More than 1 year ago
Saddle up your horse and get ready to ride with the fast flyers of the old West: the Pony Express! A wide variety of stories created a nice set of snapshots of the many types of people who came through or worked at the Pony Express stations that stretched from Missouri to California. It was very interesting to learn about this brief moment in American history, between 1860 to 1862, that left such a lasting impression on our country. The brave young men who risked their lives to deliver the mail in record time reminded me of fighter pilots, with some competitive and prideful, and others humble and sacrificial, just trying to do their job well. The stories encompass a variety of people who travel through or work at the different stations, or take refuge there temporarily. Everyone from orphans, widows, doctors, station masters, horse trainers, Native Americans, blacksmiths and cooks, to gamblers, outlaws and renegade soldiers. Plenty of action and adventure kept the reading fun, and the romances tender. One special delivery took place after the telegraph lines brought the mail runs to an end. Though the stories are short, they touched on many issues that are still relevant today, like having faith in God despite difficult circumstances, dealing with loneliness, abandonment, addiction and prejudice. The unrest of the start of the Civil War added some discussion of issues that divided families and states too. I enjoyed something in each story, and especially liked all of the horses. They were key to the success of the mail runs, and were like another set of characters. My favorite stories were the last two, with the young woman who fills in as a hostler--she's like a horse whisperer--and the last with the two siblings on the run. Recommend to readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction, with a little romance, in a western setting. 4.5 stars (An e-book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.)