Mail Order Doctor by Cynthia Woolf is a solid 4-Star read as well as the second book in The Brides of Tombstone series yet is a capable of being read as a standalone title. (I had not read book one in the series and enjoyed this title just as well as if I had without feeling as if I were missing anything.) Starting with the arrival of Julia O’Brien Reynolds to Tombstone, the book opens as a traditional ‘mail order bride’ scenario. Julia has married Dr. Matthew Reynolds by proxy after corresponding with him via letters for some time. The twist arrives when Matt is revealed to have been tricked into the marriage, never wrote any letters to Julia, and had no idea she was coming so he protests being forced into a marriage from the very onset of the story.
Julia is an accomplished nurse as well as no sweet young thing. At twenty-eight-years-old, she’s lived in New York her entire life where she’s delivered hundreds of babies thanks to her specialty in midwifery and the care of pregnant women. She arrives hopeful to start her own family with Matt as well as to open a practice alongside his where she can tend to the booming population of Tombstone being brought in by the silver mines. Her love of nursing is apparent in everything she does; Julia is a very admirable woman who is no shrinking violet even when faced with a husband who doesn’t want her after she’s traveled hundreds of miles to meet him.
I particularly liked Julia’s reasoning as to why she wouldn’t give up on Matt when it was apparent he wasn’t happy at all about their marriage. She explained it as:
“Because…I fell in love with the man in the picture I received and from the letters and so far, Matthew is that man. His grandfather may have written them, but it’s Matthew he was writing for and about. I can’t leave without even trying.”
Matt has spent his life being raised in a house filled with men give his three brothers and grandfather are his remaining family. He’s gruff yet still kind in his own way. There’s never a time I questioned Matt’s care for his patients or love of being a doctor. Throughout the book, it is emphasized how he refuses to turn away patients who cannot pay when they are in need and he will go out of his way to help someone who needs a doctor’s care. He even takes in an orphaned child when he has no reason to and when it ties him more firmly to Julia, a woman he was married to through trickery on his grandfather’s part and who he had never even heard of much less meant to marry.
“I don’t know if what I feel is love.—I don’t know if at this late date in my life I can feel love.”
Watching Matt come to terms with his feelings for Julia while she learns what it is to be a married woman is a very enjoyable journey. I’d give it a solid 4 Stars for being a comfortable read with a lovely HEA ending. The main characters are well-developed while the secondary characters make for a great background for the story. I’d recommend it to anyone who wanted a traditional Old West romance with a guaranteed happy ending.