Before I begin today's post I wanted to share that this book was sent to me by Victoria Chatham for an honest review. This book is part of the Canadian Historical Brides Collection by various authors, this book is book #1 of the series. I have also reviewed book #4 Barkerville Beginnings by A.M. Westerling, of this series and you can find that on the book reviews page of the website.
Title: Brides of Banff Springs
Author: Victoria Chatham
Publisher: Books We Love Publishing Inc.
Publication Date: 2016
In the Dirty Thirties, when work is hard to come by, Tilly McCormack is fortunate to secure a position at the prestigious Banff Springs Hotel, one of Canada’s grand railway hotels, and soon learns of the resident ghost.
At first, Tilly dismisses the tale of the bride who slipped on the hotel’s marble staircase and fell to her death. After a chilling encounter in a stairwell and later being inexplicably drawn into waltzing on her own in the ballroom, Tilly can no longer deny the rumors.
More of a concern is when the guest whose wedding will soon occur at the hotel goes missing. Tilly sets out to find the bride-to-be with trail guide Ryan Blake. Ryan is happy to help, as he intends to make Tilly his bride.
Will there be at least one happy ending between the ghost bride, the missing bride, and the possible bride-to-be?
As I say with all my reviews, I am going to try really hard to not spoil anything with this review. As such it will most likely be shorter so that I don't ruin the story for others. There is one spoiler at the end of this review I have marked it with *Spoiler Long Quote Ahead* so feel free to skip that part if you wish but I feel that it doesn't ruin the story at all.
This story begins in Banff when Tilly gets off the train from Medicine Hat. She immediately meets Ryan when she exits the station. They make introductions and he gives her a ride to the hotel. They chat on the way there and before chapter one is even over Ryan says that he is going to marry her. Tilly is extremely surprised by this obviously but before she can respond Ryan drives off with the wagon.
"I like you, Tilly. A lot. I think I'm going to have to marry you." - pg. 16
I love that he never gave her a chance to respond but you also get the idea that Tilly is not entirely opposed to the idea. As the book progresses I loved that Tilly reminisced about her life in Medicine Hat with her father. He had recently died which is what caused her to move to Banff, but the part that I liked is that it really touched on the droughts in the prairies and she talks about the dust storms and everything along with it. I was really able to visualize those things that while terrible really helped shape Tilly to be what she is.
Continuing on Tilly befriends a guest at the hotel, Miss Burma Evans, even though they are of different stations. Miss Evans is engaged to Mr. Vanderoosten, who Tilly is told to be wary of by her new friends at the hotel. You get the feeling that he is simply bad news. Tilly feels sorry for Miss Evans and continues to try and be a friend regardless of the fact that she is a chambermaid and Miss Evans is a guest.
The relationship between Tilly and Ryan was really cute to see happen they kind of just fell together naturally and neither one of them really fought the attraction. Ryan included Tilly in his plans for the future, and Tilly could see herself in them which I thought was amazing. Eventually, as you get closer to the end of the book Tilly loses her job at the hotel after being framed by Mr. Vanderoosten (not saying for what, trying not to spoil any more), and Tilly goes down to the barn in search of Ryan because she really just wants him after the bad news. After spending the day at the barn helping a mourning mule, Ryan returns and she tells him what has happened. As they are talking they received a call from the hotel stating that Miss Evans has gone missing and that they thought Tilly might know where she had gone. Tilly does indeed have an idea and she and Ryan head out to see if they can find her.
*Spoiler Long Quote Ahead*
They rescue Miss Evans (to know what happened to her you will have to read the book), and they take her to the hospital. The next day when Tilly visits her Miss Evans tells her that she is not marrying Mr. Vanderoosten and that he is in fact now on the run after a warrant is issued for his arrest. As a thank you for saving her, (as well as being her friend in my opinion) Miss Evans gifts Tilly her wedding, Tilly refuses not because she doesn't want to use it but rather because Ryan has not actually asked her to marry him.
Tilly sat and fumed. No matter what she said, Ryan would have an answer or a comeback for her. "If you must know," she finally said, "Burma and Mr. Evans offered me her wedding. But I couldn't accept."
"Why not?" Ryan almost pulled the horse up in his surprise. "Mr. Evans seemed to think it was a great solution rather than canceling everything, and what better start could we have?"
"Everyone seems to have thought of everything," Tilly snorted, "except for me. I couldn't accept the gift, Ryan, because as much as everyone expects it and has taken for granted that we'd get married, I couldn't because you haven't asked me."
Ryan did pull up them, right in the middle of the Banff Bridge. He got out of the buggy, went around to Tilly and held out his hand. She hesitated for a moment before she took it and stepped down. He took her other hand and held them both in a firm, warm clasp. Right there, beneath a moon that hung like a wish in the night sky, he went down on one knee.
"Matilda Margaret McCormack," he said softly. "You have to know how much I love you. Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
"Oh, Ryan, you silly man," he whispered as tears of happiness slipped down her cheeks. "Why couldn't you have done that in the first place? Of course I'll marry you."
This was my favorite section of this book. I also loved that the scenery was really described vividly and it was easy to picture the surroundings. Personally, I have never been to Banff but this book really makes me what to visit if only to see the Banff Springs Hotel from where this book is based. I also enjoyed the way that Tilly's friendships were formed and the way that regardless of what happened or what was thrown her way she had friends to turn to.
I really recommend this book.
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