Looking for a new start and a chance to have her own store, she placed an ad offering herself as a mail-order bride. Axel Langston, part owner of the Men's Emporium in Salt Flatts Kansas answered the ad and following a period of correspondence she headed out west by train. The train was robbed and as a reluctant victim the bandit injured her face and took all of her money.
Arriving in Salt Flatts, she meets Will Stanton, a would-be doctor who is enlisted to stitch up her injured cheek. She soon discovers he is part owner of the Men's Emporium. Her intended is nowhere to be found but she is determined and begins right away working in the store. She and Will share a rocky start as she learns his business skills are weak and he is anxious for his partner to return. Axel never mentioned a bride, didn't let on when he would return and word is traveling that there is a new single woman in town.
Will begins to see Eliza not as the plain woman she believes she is but as a striking woman who has soft skin and beautiful eyes. She begins to see what a gentle, caring man he is and begins to wish the absent Axel would get back to town so she can quit thinking about Will.
Eliza dresses like a plain woman dressed in black yet she can sell things to men they didn't realize they needed. She wants to implement F.W. Woolworth's style of business on the store to fulfill her dream of owning a successful store. Marriage to the missing Axel Langston will provide the link to this dream. When Axel finally returns, she discovers a secret at the altar that changes her plans altogether.
The story unfolds in 1881, a time when women were supposed to be home having babies and building a livelihood alongside their husbands. I liked the determination of Eliza Cantrell to live her dream while making changes to her life that enabled her to become who she was meant to be. Beauty is in the eye of the holder and as she learns of her own true beauty, she blooms into a woman whose rarity goes beyond her natural affinity for business. I recommend this book to all who love reading a good story about pioneers in the west. With this glimpse into the past, I appreciate those who came before me. A special thanks to Melissa Jagears for this complimentary copy of this book to review.