Amidst the flurry of summer vacation, family visits, and our boys’ sports and activities, I was thrilled to get my hands on a friend’s debut novel. Keli Gwyn’s A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California offered the perfect fiction respite from summer’s busy days as I dove into a story I absolutely loved.
I met Keli through her writing blog and learned firsthand that she’s a strategically placed blessing provided by God to encourage and highlight new and unpublished authors. Though we haven’t (yet) met in person, Keli’s thoughtful and caring personality shines through on her website and on Facebook, and I so appreciate her heart and willingness to share her journey to publication.
Here’s a little bit about A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California*:
In April 1870 Widow Elenora Watkins heads to California with her nine-year old daughter, Tildy, eager to become a partner in a mercantile and start fresh. When Miles Rutledge withdraws his offer because she’s a woman, Ellie opens her own shop, determined to prove herself capable of running a successful business without anyone’s help.
Widower Miles Rutledge doesn’t want to get involved with another willful woman like his late wife, especially when she’s his competition. But God has other plans for these two hard-headed, stubborn people, and they soon discover that love is gold and God’s grace includes sweet new beginnings.
As I read the story I was awed by the rich, colorful historical setting Keli created with her words. She skillfully weaves together everyday details of the mercantile business with their family and home life, creating a realistic world I felt that I was walking through from page to page. Each time I opened A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, Keli brought Old California to vivid life.
The main characters, Elenora and Miles, have a sweet and salty chemistry that builds from Keli’s witty dialogue. She carefully buffers their interactions with both character’s pained memories of their previous marriages, reminding the reader that God is in the business of second chances. Keli masterfully and delicately brings their feelings from sensitive scratch to believable friendship and ultimately, blooming and undeniable love.
I enjoyed the meticulous and often humorous details she weaves into the story – guns, store signs, nosey, caring mothers, wild teenage twins, and dueling violins – and how each detail adds layer and depth to the story. Keli closes Miles and Ellie’s love story on a beautiful note – literally – leaving the reader full and satisfied.
I was sad to close Ellie, Miles, and Tildy’s story and leave their life in El Dorado, but filled with gratefulness at the sweet ending. I’m so proud of my friend and her ability to tell a wonderful and hopeful story that clutches the reader’s heart tightly while making her laugh along the way.
I’m eagerly awaiting Keli’s next book, and highly recommend A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California.
*I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
I love sharing good books, so I’m having a blog drawing for a copy of A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California. For most writers – myself included – holding our book in our hands is the ultimate dream. What’s your dream?
In accordance with the FTC guidelines, here are some RULES for this giveaway:
- To win, you must be age 21 or over.
- Due to mailing restrictions, blog drawings/giveaways are limited to U.S. residents only.
- This drawing is void where prohibited.
To enter the drawing, leave a comment on my blog or on my Facebook post by Sunday, July 29th at midnight. (Be sure to provide your email address so I can contact you if you win.)
I’ll select the winner July 30th and post the name here and in a comment. Thanks so much for entering!