Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Review: McKenzie by Penny Zeller/4 Stars

About the book:

"Desperate times call for desperate measures" is the reasoning that prompts McKenzie Worthington, a young lady of Boston's high society, to respond to an ad for a mail-order bride for a man in the Montana Territory. McKenzie is desperate, after all, to save her beloved younger sister, Kaydie, from her evil, abusive husband, who robs banks for a living. And so, it is with reckless determination that McKenzie runs away from the comforts of home and hearth to head West and meet her new husband-whom she'll divorce, of course, after she rescues her sister.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures" is the reasoning that also prompts Zachary Sawyer, a rugged rancher after God's own heart, to post an ad for a mail-order bride in various newspapers across the country. Managing a ranch and caring for his adoptive son, Davey, has become more than one man can handle alone, and Zach prays for God to send him a wife with whom to build a life and share his dreams.

When McKenzie arrives at Zach's ranch, she immediately puts her plan in motion, searching for her sister and doing all she can to keep her new husband from forming an attachment. But his persistent kindness and significant self-sacrifices begin to change her heart-and ruin her plans. God has a way of working things out to the good of those who love Him, though, as McKenzie and Kaydie will soon see

My thoughts:

Most fans of romance will enjoy this first novel in the Montana Skies series about a Bostonian woman that travels out West as a mail-order bride, yet has an ulterior motive.

The title character of this book, McKenzie, answers an ad for a mail-order bride willing to travel to Montana Territory. The only thing is, she's really not all that interested in becoming a wife, much less to a complete stranger, but she is, however, in search of her sister who is trapped in an abusive marriage and also lives in Montana Territory. Her husband-to-be, Zach Sawyer, believes that God has sent McKenzie to him, and devotes himself fully to this new relationship even though McKenzie keeps him at arm's length. He eventually discovers her reasons for uprooting herself from a cultured lifestyle in Boston, and his initial joy of having her as his wife dissolves into feelings of disbelief.

Truly, the plot alone was worth the read since it's been a long while since I read a mail-order bride story, and this one came with an intriguing twist. McKenzie's snobbish nature early on turned me off, and her family wasn't particularly likeable, either. (In hindsight, I suppose that could be considered a good thing because by book's end, McKenzie had found a place in my heart.) Zach, on the other hand, was a complete and utter dream all the way through, and his young son, Davey, was as sweet as cherry pie. :)

On the flip side, I grew tired of the overdone Christian message throughout the novel. Most of the time, authors subtly include references to Scripture, but in my experience, it's atypical to see Scriptures used in their full context in the middle of a novel. If it had appeared once or twice, I would've thought nothing of it, but after multiple occurrences, I started to skim. Don't get me wrong...I have no problem with the inclusion of Scripture in Christian fiction, but in this case, it felt a little excessive and hindered the flow of the character's conversations in which it was used.

In spite of the preachiness of this novel, I was fully invested in the story, and sincerely wanted Zach and McKenzie's marriage to succeed. Also, there were a handful of great life lessons and nuggets of advice shared between Asa and Zach that were great additions to the story. The ending of this book set the stage nicely for the next book where I'll have the opportunity to get to know Kaydie as well as a certain confirmed bachelor who has already piqued my interest. :)

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

**For more information about Penny Zeller, please visit


  1. Would you believe... I still haven't read this novel! It's been on my pile since its release or shortly thereafter. *sigh* There's too many good books out there!

    Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season, Christy: Merry Christmas!

    1. Rissi ~

      I hear had been in my TBR pile since it's release, too! :o)

      Thanks for the holiday wishes! Hope you and your family have a splendid time together as well. *wink*

  2. This one sounds good. I'm with you on the preachy factor. I love Christian fiction, but sometimes the preachiness gets to me.

    1. Holly, it got to me here. It could have been done much better while still getting the point across. Not sure if it was edited in any way in the final edition...I did read an ARC, so I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt.


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