Mercer’s Belles (Timeless Western Collection Book 3)

Heather B. Moore,
Teri Harman, Linda Carroll-Bradd

WESTERN:  Asa Mercer has a plan to bring unattached women to the American West, which is sorely lacking in females. He plans to give them jobs as teachers, and he hopes to find them husbands.  In the first novella, he seems like a kindly gentleman with honest motives.  By the second novella, which occurs approximately two years later as he travels with his second group of women, he seems to be a greedy opportunist.  The three stories are loosely linked through the two arduous journeys and the common theme of leaving life in eastern America for an unknown life and a fresh start in western America.  The characters have different motives:  Harriet and Cora (from the first and second stories) are seeking independence, respect, and fresh opportunities, while Sorcha just wants to teach.  They do each find fulfillment in their jobs, and along the way, they do meet men who are their equal and who allow them to flourish in their new careers.  

These are sweet stories that give the reader a glimpse of how difficult and time-consuming travel was in the post-Civil War era.  These women, along with the featured minor women characters, all have different reasons for leaving the familiar, and venturing into the uncertainty of life in the west. The writers are able to impart enough information to give the reader a good grasp of the conflicts and challenges faced by each group of travelers.  The stories are believable and seem to be sufficiently researched.  There is a bit of inconsistency in the portrayal of Asa Mercer, but that may be due to the different styles or the separate story arc created by each author.  Additionally, the reader needs to pay attention to the journey dates and to the introduction, or there can be confusion about the ‘same’ trip occurring during different seasons.  Nevertheless, the pacing is steady and includes a bit of low-level tension that keeps the reader interested in the outcome.

Carey Sullivan