BYE-BYE MAIL ORDER BRIDES? by CHERYL PIERSON #blogabookscene #westernromance #prairierosepub

Well, I learned something new the other day on Facebook! It seems that, for a large group of readers, mail-order bride stories are a thing of the past—not interesting anymore. Is it possible to use up every single imaginable scenario for a mail-order bride to find herself in? I wonder…

I remember my mom saying several times during my growing up years how sad she thought it would be if every combination of notes had been used, and there was no possibility of any new music being written. Mom was a wonderful vocalist, and I played the piano. Admittedly, I had never thought about that until she mentioned it. But you can bet, after she did, my mind went to work on that idea—what a tragedy it would be if that were to happen! And…COULD it happen? I laid awake at night, my 10-year-old brain running amok.


So, in writing, I guess I applied that same thought to telling stories. With so many people in the world who write, isn’t that a lot like composing a certain kind of musical piece? One with your own flair for storytelling and your own “tune” as you weave the characters, the plot, the setting and the inevitable “angst” that has to happen to come to a crashing finale—a satisfying end that leaves the reader with a smile and a desire to read more!

I have to say, I was disappointed to hear that MOB books are not looked upon with as much favor as they once were. To me, those stories, done well, are some of the very best. I think, for me, at least, part of the appeal comes from the thought that mail-order brides were very real—not just something made up that never actually happened in our history. And coupled with imagining all the hardships so many of them went through, I’m not sure I could ever run out of MOB ideas.

The very idea of being desperate enough to leave everything you’d known and held dear to go to a place where nothing was familiar is one that is hard for me to even consider DOING. I think this is so because I do not like surprises. I’m not much of a gambler, or a risk-taker. But I do understand that many of those women felt they had no choice but to go—and again, when I imagine the depths of desperation they must have felt, I believe there is no end to possible circumstances that might have placed these women in the situations they found themselves in.

But the circumstance that forces these women to seek a husband in a faraway place is only the beginning of the story for that couple. For surely, the “other half”, the groom, must have his own reasons for being willing to marry a woman sight unseen, as well. If she needs the security of a man to support her, what are the reasons he needs a permanent woman—rather than a lady of the night?

How can they agree on anything? How can they fall in love in such a forced way? How can they make a marriage last for a lifetime, as so many did? What happened when it didn’t? So many questions—so many stories.

Do you have a favorite MOB story? Or are you sick of them? I’m working on a MOB story right now—so I’m hoping that there are still some readers out there who still love the MOB premise. As for me, I love so many different types of stories, and read so much, I can’t ever say I would get tired of MOB stories, as long as they’re not too “contrived” and strain believability.

How about you? What do you think?

Here’s an excerpt from my last MOB story, SABRINA, which was part of a four-book set called MAIL-ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS. The other authors in this boxed set are Livia J. Washburn, Jacquie Rogers, and Celia Yeary.


Boxed set of four full length mail order bride novels.

Brought up in the wealth and comfort of Eastern “old money” in staid and proper Philadelphia, the Remington sisters are forced to scatter to the four winds and become mail-order brides. In order to gain a fortune, their sinister step-father, Josiah Bloodworth, has made plans to marry them off in loveless marriages. Time is running out, and no matter what lies ahead in their uncertain futures, it has to be better than the evil they’re running from…


Both Cam and Sabrina have secrets–Cam has pretended to be his brother, Robert, in an effort to find out if Sabrina could care about him. Being half Cherokee is a burden he knows too well–and he knows he’s got to have the right kind of wife to survive in Indian Territory. But Sabrina has not been entirely forthcoming with her situation, either. Let’s take a look…

“I’d—I’d like an explanation,” she said frostily.

“And I’m gonna give you one, Sabrina. The best I can, any-how.” Cam raked a hand through his hair. “Let’s sit down over here—”

“No, thank you. I’ll stand.” Her voice was prim, proper, and as icy as a frozen pond in January.

Cam sighed, hooking his thumbs in his gun belt and tilting his head back to look at the night sky. “You’re not making this any easier.”

“No. I don’t intend to. You’ve deceived me. You’ve made me feel…foolish.” She let out a deep breath. With it went some of her anger. “I trusted you, C-Cameron.” It was still hard to think of him as “Cameron” rather than “Robert”—and it was going to take some getting used to.

Cam took a step toward the boulder he’d sat on earlier. “I’m sorry for that. It was wrong of me, ’Brina. But I had to be sure—”

“Sure? Of what? I’m the one who’s given up everything to come here to a place where I don’t know anyone—evidently, even my husband—to a land that is unfamiliar—”

“Sabrina, you haven’t given up everything. Even though, right now, you may not recognize it, I’m your best bet for any protection you might need.”


He bent a dark, searching stare on her. “You’re running from someone—your stepfather, maybe others—there in Philadelphia. When they get here—”

Sabrina’s eyes were wide, and she felt the blood drain from her face. He hadn’t said “if”—he’d said “when”. He believed they were coming. It had been in the back of her mind, ever since she’d boarded the stage west, but to hear it voiced by Cam… Still, he didn’t really even know the full circumstances of her leaving Philadelphia…he couldn’t be sure she’d be followed.

“You believe they’ll follow…for certain.” She shuddered.

Cam’s expression changed, letting her know he’d only speculated up to now; her reaction had let him know he was right. “I’d like the full story. When you’re ready.”

Thanks so much for stopping by today!




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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here:
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41 thoughts on “BYE-BYE MAIL ORDER BRIDES? by CHERYL PIERSON #blogabookscene #westernromance #prairierosepub”

  1. Good morning Cheryl- well I know where this came from. Sorry I opened a can of worms. But I did!! I have so many friends that read, so when I tell them of a book and it has MOB in the title their response to me is, “Thanks, but no thanks, I’m tired of MOB stories.” I have to agree it seems that the market is flooded with this use of MOB the title. I will not read a book unless it’s by one of my favorite authors that I know can SPIN a MOB story and I know it will be so much more. If it’s some author I’ve never read, well I pass on it. I know it’s probably a good story, but the title does not set it apart from the 1000’s Of other books using MOB in it title. I’ll read a MOB story as long as it has a catchy title that says the book is going to be so much more. I’m not against MOB stories, just against using MOB in the title over & over.
    Thanks for all your wonderful books you write.

    • HEY GIRL! LOL No, you did NOT open a can of worms! I’m glad you started that discussion, both as an author and as a publisher. You know it just never dawned on me that putting MOB in the title might not be the right thing. Since Amazon wants us to use “keywords” when we put a book up for sale, it’s important. You’re right though–in the last few years there have gotten to be literally thousands of books with MOB in the title. The dilemma is, are people so sick of them they don’t want to read another one, so MOB turns them off? Or are there still readers of MOB who are searching them out? OR BOTH! LOL

      I agree with you wholeheartedly–a MOB story MUST have something catchy and be WELL-WRITTEN to make it stand out and be one that readers are going to want to spend their time reading–so many books, so little time, right? Why read something that doesn’t hold your interest? And golly, anymore, with so many titles out there–it’s really hard to think of one that’s catchy that has not been used–multiple times.

      I was glad you started that discussion, because it really made me think. I truly had not thought that MOB in the title might not be a GOOD thing, but after reading the discussion, I can see that in some cases, it sure isn’t! Like anything else, people get tired of the “same old thing”–and it’s hard to take a chance on new authors who create a spin on an old idea–you want to stick with the tried and true. I totally get that.

      So now…I’m thinking what I need to do is re-think my thinking! LOL I need to stop using MOB in the title, maybe, and instead, include it somehow in the blurb (if it fits). I’ve been thinking about this ever since I saw your thread on FB, and I’m so glad I DID! It makes a difference to me as a publisher–we want to sell books–and as an author–I want to sell books! LOL

      Great ideas and thoughts about this subject, Tonya, for sure! And all thanks to YOU, my friend! I love anything that makes me re-think what I “thought” I knew. LOL


  2. To read MOB, or not to read MOB? My real question is who wrote it? The author is the best credibility for the story to have depth with characters that breathe life into the emotions. I may take on a book#1 and never read another due to the author, not the MOB. Well told, MOB engages and is vivid in my mind. You go for it, Cheryl Pierson. I will eventually read it.

    • Aw, Jerri! Thank you–I really really LOVED The Remington Sisters set that Livia Reasoner, Celia Yeary, Jacquie Rogers and I did. I think the coolest thing is the sisters having a shared background but all of them being forced to leave quickly to save themselves from being basically “sold” off to the men their stepfather had picked out for them. Lots of twists and turns in each story, being as there were 4 different authors, and the sisters each had their own distinct personalities, but had some shared memories, etc. I agree with you though–there has to be a GOOD telling of the story, no matter what it is. Thanks for your kind words!

  3. I like MOB stories. I find them fascinating that woman would be so brave as to come sight unseen to a man and maybe fall in love with him. This type of story will come back. There was a when all I was reading were historical romances, whether they were western, civil war, Elizabethan, Victorian, Gothic or early 20th century. But I got away from them and started reading mostly Contemporary romances, but now I am reading a mix of both. MOB will make a return I am sure.

    • Kathleen, I think the fact is, like Tonya stated, the market is just flat saturated with MOB stories–so what sets them apart? It must be the author and the telling of the story, for one thing, and for another thing, what kind of circumstances force them to–as you say–go sight unseen to a man. I am not sure I would EVER be that brave–so there had to be a LOT of desperation involved in most of those instances I would say, too! I read a huge mix of everything, but I truly can see where reading nothing but MOB stories would tend to make you get sick of them very quickly.

  4. I enjoy MOB stories. I cannot remember the name of the story, but my favorite involved a young woman coming west under an assumed name and the met the wrong man.

    • Hi DebraG! Truly, there are a lot of difference scenarios that can happen and make things very interesting–in a good way, and in a bad way. But I do believe the telling of the story is the most important thing.

    • I’m the same way, Cathy! Just can’t take a steady diet of them–variety is wonderful in our reading, but I do return to MOB stories because I think it just fascinates me on a personal level that women could actually get up the gumption to do that.

  5. The only books I read that has mail order bride in title are the ones by authors I like. I do not usually pick up a new to me author book with mail order bride in title due to I usually know how the storyline will go. Bride arrives groom didn’t know she was coming. Groom fights his initial attraction to said Bride. Bride fights her growing attraction to Groom and then they finally admit they love each other. There is your typical mail order bride book in a nutshell. I recently read a new to me author just to see if I was wrong in my thoughts on MOB and sure enough it followed the typical MOB. I will certainly not read anymore new to me authors with MOB in the title after testing my theory. This is just this reader’s opinion. I may miss out on a spectacular book but so be it

    • Glenda, I know what you mean. Like I said, there are only so many hours in the day, and my goodness–there’s no way to read every book out there that we want to read in our lifetimes–so no point in wasting time on those we aren’t crazy about! I read a lot of books that I might not pick up (it’s my job!) for pleasure, but when I DO have time to read for pleasure, I definitely stay with tried and true authors I know, and storylines that I know are going to be appealing to me, because my “pleasure reading” is so limited these days. And you know, if you DID miss a great story, the good thing is maybe someone else will have read it and mention it to you. There is just not enough time to read everything. So glad you came by!

  6. I’m too new to the wonderful world of reading after not having read for decades to be tired of MOB books. I do have to admit that I wouldn’t jump for joy or pay much money to read a series of MOB books from an author I’ve never read before. I will always read MOB books from an author I love though. My advice to authors would be to just stop with putting MOB in the title because to many it is a turn off. Also, a writer of MOB would have to be careful not to make even their own MOB have similar things happen in them. It whole idea of MOB is very intriguing to me also because of what a crazy thing it is for me or even wrap my head around. I do not think I could ever be that desperate. It takes such a brave desperate woman to take on the challenge. I just can’t imagine it and I am happy I never had to make that decision. Then again if a very very wealthy man would take me I’d become his MOB. I’m dirt poor and have MS. In this day and time we could do enough research on the man to be able to make the decision. Lol

    • Oh goodness, Stephanie! You’ve got a whole ton of books to catch up on now, don’t you? You know, when we wrote MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS (Livia, Jacquie, Celia and I) that was one of the good things about it–we each knew where our “sister” was going to land, but they all travelled separately to their destinations, so the adventures they had were unique to each of them, and they were alone with no one to lean on for advice, as they had always had before. I loved that not only were they travelling to a new future, but as they were going, they were growing, too, as individuals, and learning to cope with things on their own before they got there. One travelled with her cat–she would not leave him behind! I loved that about her, being such an animal lover myself. I say I couldn’t do what these women did, but then again, it would depend on what they were faced with at home–and these sisters were faced with a diabolical step-father who had some horrible plans for them! So glad you stopped by, I love to hear everyone’s “take” on this.

  7. Cheryl, I think things come in cycles and circuits. The mail order brides were an important part of our country’s history, just like the orphan train and the Land Rush, and the possibilities are, to coin a phrase, endless. I do Oregon Trail and I believe that EVERYONE who set out from Independence or St. Joseph had a story. I feel the same way about MOB, but as with everything, the stories have to be told skillfully and without cliché. In other words, it has to be a story worth telling. I hope mine are!

    • Kathy, I would love to know more about the Oregon Trail. We just published one at PRP a few weeks ago that I really got caught up in while editing. I don’t know as much about that as I do other parts of history, so I learned a LOT reading that book. I agree–everyone has a story, it just has to be worth telling and interesting enough that readers want to know about our characters, their plights, and see them get their happy endings.

  8. I want to read about a good looking good bad boy and the woman that tames him. I think they flooded the market with MOB.

    • OH YES, YVONNE! A woman after my own heart! LOL I love any story like that, for sure! Yes, MOB did flood the market. Just like in contemporary everyone jumps on the bandwagon for Navy Seal stories. There again, the market is flooded. But you’re right…those good looking bad boys steal my heart every single time!

  9. Cheryl, write what your heart tells you. That’s the bottom line. You always have before so don’t stop listening to the stories in your head. I have a whole MOB series starting Feb. 2019 and I’m not going to be hiding them. If others are tired of them then so be it. We have to be true to ourselves. That said, I understand that the market does seem to be flooded with them and most are humdrum but I think there is still room for ones that are well-written and have a different twist on the same type of romance.

    Go for it and let the creative juices flow!

    • Linda, that’s true–it’s just picking out the ones that are “above and beyond” the run of the mill stories out there–I can truly see why readers are worried about spending money on someone they don’t know for a topic that has been out for a while. But I can’t help it–I still love those MOB stories and the twists that prove so unusual if the story is well-crafted. I can’t wait to read your series, but of course, I always love your stories–it’s a sure bet to pick up one of your books!

      Oh, I will write my story–I can’t help but do it. And it’s a very “twisty” story–there’ll be more than one in this set because of the circumstances, but in this case, the brides are almost as reluctant as the grooms. LOL I hope they’ll be well received, but there will be no mention of MOB in the title!

  10. I enjoy mail order bride stories and read them pretty often. Now if I read them all the time I do get a little bored with them so I have to switch off of them for a while. That goes with any thing I am reading though weather it is historical, suspense, contemporary I have to switch around with my books.

    • Quilt Lady, I’m that same way. Sometimes I just get on a kick and I want to read ONE TYPE of story, but then I get really tired of that and have to go on to something else! LOL I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  11. Interesting! I still enjoy MOB stories but I do read many types so I don’t feel like I’m inundated with that plotline.

    • That’s a good thing to do, Connie–switch around some. I can see where, if people read MOB stories (or any type of story that has a “theme” like that) they would be really tired of them after a bit.

  12. I felt, as an author, the same way that Cheryl brought up–MOB’s had been overdone. However, being an author, I just had to take the plunge and see if I could write a different twist on a mail order bride. Thus, the next story in my West Texas Frontier Trilogy is a MOB book, but I do believe it has lots of different aspects I haven’t seen in MOB books before. And I would hope, going forward, not that I’m thinking of writing another one, the prevailing sentiment of a lot of the readers who commented here holds–buy if you like the author’s work. Pass if you believe it might just be another “boiler plate” read. Just my take on it.

    • Right, Hebby. If you know the author, and you’ve liked their previous books, there’s a great chance that even if you’re worried about “another MOB story” the author won’t let you down. There was SOMETHING you liked about the previous books that will carry over into the story, even if it’s not something you are too keen on anymore–or tired of that theme. I admit, there are plenty of other themes out there that I love to read–I’m not married to MOB stories, but boy, there sure are some different ones out there I’m glad I read and enjoyed. Just as there are plenty out there that I’ve already forgotten.

  13. I do enjoy MOB stories and always have. I’m not tired of them and love the unique story line ones. I think you are right – there is so much room for unique twists on them from so many different levels. Write what you love and there are always those who will read them.

    • Susan, I think you’re right about that–I know there is generally an audience for most everything out there. Different people like different themes in their stories. I’ve always thought that MOB stories are a good way to get people together who, under regular circumstances, would have no motivation to get to meet one another–that’s one reason I love them so much.

  14. I really love mail-order bride stories–they’re my favorites–along with marriage of convenience stories nearly as well. There are a lot of titles out there with “mail order”in them but it seems to me many of them are on kindle only–read that as you will.

    While I have certain story themes I like, my favorite authors always come first, though. And I’m too often running behind on them! I keep a yearly list of when those books by must-have authors come out, so I don’t read a lot of new authors just because they have “mail order” in the title. I try new authors when someone I know and/or respect suggests a new author. I’m more likely to try to catch up on “classics” I’ve missed.

    I also don’t buy books by titles or covers.

    So, Cheryl, in the end, I’d take what you read on Facebook with a grain of salt, especially these days with so much monkey-business going on, and like Linda B said, stick to what you know is right for you.

    • Eliza, wow, you do a ton of reading, and I totally understand why you have to keep a list of must-haves to keep them straight. It would be a shame to miss one of those that you were counting on reading! I do understand about not reading a lot of new authors, too, when you already have so many tried and true favorites and the Lord knows, we sometimes just don’t have enough time to keep up with those, even. I’m just fascinated by this topic and how many ideas there are about it — love seeing how people think about this kind of thing!

      • What a great thread!! I personally can’t imagine westerns without MOBs! It may be a cycle thing perhaps. I forgot to mention that I tend to read books in “cycles” myself, either by author, theme, genre, or whatever. Yep, I also have lists by themes, like MOB, marriage of convenience, opposites attract, shotgun weddings, governesses, beta heroes, bluestockings, brother steps up for brother, lots of humor, time travel, rakes, and so on.

        I mostly read historical fiction from the Colonies up to 1900 and from any time period in Great Britain (up to 1900). I also take breaks by reading non-fiction, but unsurprisingly it’s often history, and it’s often in multiple-book binges, those too with themes, like the Revolution, the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Oregon Trail, various Indian tribes, and so on.

        Just recently I’ve read about 20 or so books on the first century Middle East, Jesus, and the Jesus Movement that morphed into Christianity. I’ve read a number of terrific authors that I choose either by their reputation with others in their field, bibliographies and quotes from books I’ve already read, or…of course a favorite author. I found a new favorite author four years ago and read 6 or 7 of his books back then. Now this spring I’ve read another 10 or so. (I’m running out! Waaah!) He was an Irish monk from youth until later in life when he became a university professor and scholar. Besides various schools, as an adult he studied at the Vatican archives, Jerusalem, Turkey (Galatia, etc.), Greece, etc.–places most of us don’t get to go to and things the public never gets to see. I feel like I’ve had a university education from him since some of his books are for the public while others are for his peers. IOW, I often have to really work for it and use my brain!! Believe it or not that’s a wonderful thing; besides learning something new, it’s great for focusing and concentration when you need to be distracted from other things in your life. Oh, and you need a dictionary–does that count on my reading list?? 😉

      • Isn’t it? We owe it all to Tonya and her getting my brain to “thinking” again! LOL I think it’s a cycle, too, Eliza–I agree that it seems that things come in cycles, and then the market is flooded with that kind of book. I remember when vampires were the big deal, and shape shifters, then zombies in the supernatural genre. You have a very varied reading list! Yes, the dictionary counts! LOL My great grandmother used to tell my mom that all you needed to be “well-educated” was the Bible and the dictionary. LOL

    • AWESOME, COLLEEN!!! I’ll write at least this series of MOB stories I’m working on…then maybe on to something different. The market truly IS ever-changing.

  15. I think a fresh spin might be in order.

    I wrote one for a writing contest last year and scored highly on it. It was a little different.

    • Oh, congratulations, Denise! That’s great! I think when things have a different spin on them, that’s what gets the story noticed. It’s really important!

  16. I don’t think I will ever get tired of Mail Order Bride stories. The desperation, courage, and maybe a bit of adventure seeking that these women had is always interesting. I have read several books on real mail order brides and some stories would be considered a stretch if an author put them in fiction. Most women were looking for a better situation in life and security. Men were looking for someone to take care of them and their children if they had any, and a readily available sex partner. The really unlucky women found themselves in abusive situations, some in situation more like a slave than a wife.

    I can relate to the adventure of going far from what you are familiar and starting a new life. Though not such a final and drastic move, I joined the Peace Corps and went to the other side of the world. I lived at home through college, and that was my first real move away form home. Today we know much more about where we are going and what to expect. That is an advantage earlier generations of women didn’t have. No matter the training and what you read to prepare yourself, it is still a different experience to be dropped off alone in a place so very different from what you are used to. The world is more westernized today, information more available, and communication by cell phone and computer available in many places. None of that was available 50 years ago (OMG it can’t possibly be that long ago!) when I went to my assignment. You were never sure exactly what to expect, but at least you had a way out. Your assignment was 2 years long and you knew you would be leaving. If there were real problems you could be reassigned or leave sooner. I extended for a third year. When I returned, I married a military man and the adventure continued.

    I believe we all do what must be done and the chances to have the life we wish for. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. You don’t have to go far from home for that to happen. I will never tire of hearing the stories of these women who took such a great chance to find the life and the love they desired.

  17. Patricia, I can’t say enough how I admire you and others like you who joined the Peace Corps and went into the “unknown” like you did! What a life you have lived! No wonder you relate to these women who had to leave it all behind and go elsewhere, for whatever reason they felt they had to go, and start fresh. You know, to me, one of the saddest things is thinking that when they left their homes they most certainly would never see their loved ones again–siblings, parents, etc. so not only were they saying goodbye to their familiar surroundings, but to the family members they weren’t sure they’d ever see, or even be able to get a letter to/from, in those days.

    Thanks for stopping by! I always love your comments!

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