Life doesn’t always work out the way we want.
And sometimes, that’s a good thing.
Melanie Ross is a governess for a wealthy family in Ohio when the mischief of the boy in her care causes her to lose her job. Her powerful ex-employer vows to end her prospects for working as a governess, but he leaves her with enough severance pay to start over. Melanie recalls a letter from her cousin, now deceased, who was part owner of a mercantile in Arizona. She decides to take a train out West to appeal to the surviving partner for a job and a place to live. But when she arrives, she finds that her cousin’s partner is also dead and the store is being managed by his nephew, Caleb Nelson.
I enjoy the situations Cox puts her characters in, and Melanie’s predicament showcases Cox’s ability to ruffle her character’s comfort and create conflict, both internal and external. Melanie and Caleb clash from the beginning, which means we’ll see sparks of a different kind fly later in the story. The romance factor is a bit predictable, but the overall story is uplifting and enjoyable. The setting, 1880s Arizona, is captivating and I find myself drawn to these cozy western stories.
Melanie is a confident–and sometimes overbearing–female lead in this story, but it’s fun to “watch” as she and Caleb dispute ownership of the store and try to make it work to the best of their abilities. There’s an element of danger, too, as the store has been the target of anonymous threatening notes and rumors about the causes of its previous owners’ deaths. Caleb and Melanie find themselves fighting on the same side for the sake of the store.
And eventually, though neither of them planned for life to work out the way it did, both of them discover that God’s plans work out for the best.
I think this theme is best reflected in Melanie’s revelation:
How like the Lord to create beauty from the ashes of her despair and turn her heartache into rejoicing. (133)
What an encouraging reminder of the way He works.