Loved this story, good read, excellent.
This is one of Carolyn Davidson's earlier books; however, it is well-worth locating a copy. The characters are well-developed and endearing.
Lottie O'Malley, a 19 year-old former inmate/worker at a Boston orphanage, has come to Missouri to be a mail-order bride. She feels fortunate to have two offers of marriage; one from the Methodist minister and the other from a prosperous widowed farmer. When she arrives in Mill Creek, she is stunned to find that the minister has left for parts unknown and the farmer has just died in an accident. James Tillman has left behind two orphans -- Sissy and Thomas.
Because she has no idea what to do, Lottie goes to the home of James Tillman to see about the children. There she meets the surly and grieving younger brother, John. Although Lottie agrees to tend the children while he is away arranging his brother's funeral, John knows the mail-order bride will be wanting to go to town to find a new prospective groom.
Lottie surprises him on all counts; she takes the devastated children in hand and becomes their safe haven. It does not take John long to realize the treasure that Lottie is. When the preacher comes to the farm to entreat Lottie to forgive him and marry him, John knows he must do something to keep them apart. The reader learns that John was enamored with his older brother's first wife, Sarah. Six months after her death, John is still pining over her.
When Sarah's parents head to the farm to take their grandchildren back to St. Louis (to live), John realizes how important the children are to him and he wants to stop the adults. He asks Lottie to marry him; she thinks the only reason John wants her is to keep the children. In spite of this, Lottie agrees.
Some of Carolyn Davidson's nicest stories are about two strangers who marry under difficult circumstances and grow to love each other. That is the gist of this story and it is engaging and satisfying. I felt the story dragged a bit at the end; otherwise it was an endearing tale.