A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado by Keli Gwyn

Have you ever had a dream and people constantly told you that you couldn't do it? And when you tried, circumstances got in your way?

In A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California by Keli Gwyn, that's what happens to Elenora Watkins. All her life she wanted to take over her father's mercantile, but he passes her over in favor of a man. Now widowed, with nine-year-old Tildy to care for, Elenora accepts an offer of partnership at Rutledge Mercantile in El Dorado, California. One small problem. Miles Rutledge does not know his new partner is a woman, since his charmingly manipulative mother was in charge of the correspondence.

When Miles refuses to offer a partnership, Elenora proceeds to open her own mercantile - directly across the street. She carries wares a bit different than Miles carries, more suited for women, but the battle is on. As Elenora and Miles compete in business, they fight romantic feelings for each other, and wage a deeper struggle against the pride in their own hearts.

Keli Gwyn and I
A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California deftly balances romance, humor, and a thoughtful message. Keli Gwyn has a marvelous knack for dialogue, banter, and humor. But I was even more struck by the message of not letting pride destroy relationships. Both Elenora and Miles long to best the other and prove themselves, but they each learn that being respectful and kind is far better.

In one of my favorite scenes, the women are planning competitions for the men at El Dorado Day. The temptation is to make the men "slice onions in frilly aprons." One of the women says, "Why should we go out of our way to make the men look good?" But another woman replies, "It would pain me to see any man shamed in front of the townspeople. I think Sammy would be more likely to show me respect if I did the same for him." Bravo!

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to more from Keli Gwyn.

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