The Bride Lottery #6: Two Brothers is the sixth book in The Bride Lottery series by Caty Callahan. If you didn’t already know, this series started several years ago and then was copied by another romance author whose books were eventually taken down from Barnes and Noble for trademark infringement. I didn’t particularly care for that other Bride Lottery, but this one I love.
10 out of 10 stars for a beautiful story well-written and easy to read.
It starts with a lottery, like all of the lottery series by Caty Callahan. It’s a future in which the population has been decimated by an apocalypse and men outnumber women six to one. The Brennanmen, peacekeepers, created the lottery to give every man an equal chance at getting a bride. Every April first, men sign a list and women drop their names into a jar. It’s the lucky man whose name is chosen before the women run out, but it’s the smart one who gets his bride to stay with him. If they live together for three months and don’t consummate their marriage, either of them is free to divorce on Lottery Day the following year, splitting their property in half.
Annie Blake is the second oldest of four siblings orphaned in the Sun Gorge Massacre. Everywhere they look at home there are memories of those they lost, their parents and two brothers, Evan and Michael. Their solution is to pick up and move two hundred miles away to Evening Glen where Annie buys a house with their parents’ savings sight unseen. That house has a collapsed roof and they move in just in time for the rainiest month of the year, April. Rather than waste what little savings their parents have left on a hotel, the oldest sister, Beth, agrees to enter the lottery and give them a temporary home while Annie repairs the roof. According to the lottery rules, Beth only has to live with her new husband for three months and then can get a divorce on Lottery Day (April 1) the following year. There’s just one problem. Twenty-seven men enter and Beth chickens out.
Annie is the one who enters, pretending she’s eighteen and entering under a fake name, Bloom, so no one can figure out she’s lying. Two girls run, another one faints, and another one runs, leaving Annie all alone with those twenty-seven angry men. It’s Mason MacNamara, a handsome boy not much older than Annie, who steps in and shields her from the rowdy men. Imagine his surprise when his name is called first. That’s the point where I was hooked. Two people who obviously belong together and he knows it instinctively.
The romance between Annie and Mace blossoms naturally. They kiss, they neck, they hold each other, and they talk. It’s while they’re necking that he notices a man’s name on the nightshirt she’s wearing. That makes him jealous. Annie’s older sister Beth fans the flames of that jealousy along with Mace’s brother Hunter. From the start Annie really likes Mace. He doesn’t frighten her at all and his kisses heal her heart which is saying something considering what she’s been through. But eventually Beth goes too far and Mace believes her, doing something unforgivable to Annie. She leaves, taking her younger siblings with her. And then Mace learns the truth, too late.
I’ve read several of the novels in the three series the author has on Amazon. One note she returns to again and again is how shared experiences bond people together. What Mace does to repair their relationship is phenomenal. I don’t want to spoil it, but he gives up literally everything for Annie, even if she’s going to cast him aside after three months. He slowly digs himself out of that hole and she falls in love with him all over again.
There are moments in this novel that really tug at your heartstrings. In particular the scenes with Annie and her younger siblings when they shop in the General Store and when they shop with Mace at the General Store. It’s obvious they are deeply affected by what’s happened to them but they are still hopeful. That’s a remarkable thing and it stayed with me long after I’d finished the novel.
The setting is like 1880s America but in the future. People live in small towns with doctors, blacksmiths, little hotels, and General Stores surrounded by ranches and farms with solar power. It’s a refreshing world where couples really try to stick together instead of giving up, a world where men have to up their game to get their brides to stay. I’ll take that over a contemporary romance any day of the week.
10 out of 10 stars for a charming, easy read.
Reviewed by Devin.