Joan Johnston has created a series around the six Wentworth children who were orphaned after the Great Chicago Fire killed their wealthy and loving parents and destroyed their home. Sent to an orphanage by a selfish and unfeeling uncle, Miranda, twins Hannah and Hetty, Josie and their two little brothers find themselves in hell. When the oldest Miranda comes of age and is able to leave, she takes her two little brothers with her and becomes a mail order bride which is chronicled in the first book of the series, Texas Bride. When the twins and Josie finally make their escape from the orphanage, they find themselves on a wagon train headed west where Hannah is to become a mail order bride herself (book two Wyoming Bride). But disaster strikes the wagon train and the girls are separated. Montana Bride is the story of Hetty and where she ends up after being left to die in a Conestoga wagon with an arrow wound to her shoulder.
Our hero Karl is a learned man who was educated at Harvard but finds himself in the Montana territory, determined to prove to his brother he can handle his end of their logging enterprise. Karl knows he is a smart, but plain man and he longs for the company of a wife and family so he places an ad for a mail order bride with children and waits patiently for their arrival. After being rescued, Hetty finds herself in the company of a Chinese man who is escorting Karl's intended bride and two children to Montana when disaster strikes yet again. Hetty feels her only choice to help the children is to pretend to be Karl's mail order bride. What follows is the slow and somewhat painful making of a family as Hetty and the children find themselves forced to tell lies about who they really are. Karl knows that something isn't right, but is so captivated by Hetty's beauty, he decides to let it go... initially. Can Karl create a life in the wilderness with Hetty that is built on lies? Can he prove to his brother that he has what it takes to be his partner, even as someone out there is determined that he won't succeed?
Montana Bride is a typical western romance about four people who are longing for the love and comfort of a family but have some obstacles to overcome before they can make that happen. Karl is a bit of an unusual hero but he is appealing in many ways and proves he is more than up to the challenge. Hetty's heart is in the right place and she is determined to turn this rag tag bunch in to a real family and to one day find her brothers and sisters. A tender romance that had me looking ahead with anticipation to Josie's story and hoping that the Wentworth children will find one another in the end.