The Bride’s House

Written by Sandra Dallas
Review by Jeanne Greene

The only way to get rich in a Colorado mining town in 1880 is to strike gold or marry a rich man, like Nealie’s lover, Will; but he’s already married. Charlie, who is as poor as Nealie is, wants to marry her – even after she gets pregnant by Will. Nealie has no choice; she accepts. Then Charlie buys the Bride’s House for her, the handsome Victorian she used to dream of living in with Will. Where does Charlie get the money?

The Bride’s House proves to be an unhappy home. Charlie becomes a controlling, secretive father to Pearl, refusing to allow her to marry a man not of his choosing. Eventually Pearl does marry, however, and she has a daughter, Susan.

After Charlie’s death, Pearl stumbles on documents he had hidden in the Bride’s House. She is shocked by the revelations but when fate deals Susan a difficult hand, Pearl knows what is at stake. Should she tell Susan everything or take a chance on her daughter’s wisdom? The wrong decision can ruin Susan’s – and Pearl’s – life.

As often happens in generational stories, the first character, Nealie, is more vivid than the others. The rough life of a mining camp makes Nealie’s dilemma especially poignant. We are told less about the secretive Pearl, by design, and Susan’s problems are predictable. Excitement lags until, late in the book, Pearl plays a wild card that gives the plot meaning. Fans of Sandra Dallas and readers who enjoy multigenerational stories with shocking family secrets will be entertained.