Book Review

Review – The Chef’s Mail Order Bride by Cindy Caldwell

I have a problem. It’s called free e-books. It’s true that I’ve recently removed books that I no longer have any interest in or whose synopsis was no longer on Amazon, but I don’t seem to be able to stop myself from clicking the “Buy Now” button when the price is $0.00. I even have the Amazon Best Sellers list on my browser’s bookmarks, and I look at it (the “free” part) probably at least once every day. A lot of time it is the same old stuff in the top 100, but sometimes there’s a nice surprise there, and there are a few series I’m certain I’ll be able to completely snag for free, given enough time.

The Chef’s Mail Order Bride by Cindy Caldwell was one of those nice surprises–a sweet historical romance mixed in among the free “steamy” romances and self-help and cookbooks. I have enjoyed historical romances–especially those set in the harsh American West–since I was a teenager, a lot of them were also faith-based, along the line of Janette Oke and similar authors. I still pick these up from time to time, but it’s more for the story now than the messages about “faith” that I used to relate to so strongly.

Sometimes, a short and sweet story is the best way to spend an afternoon.

All Sadie had ever known, or ever wanted to know, was being a baker. She’d been raised to bake in her parents’ bakery, and after their deaths, she had planned to carry on the family tradition. Devastated to find out she was losing her family’s business, she needed something to do to support herself. When she received a letter from her twin sister’s husband in Arizona Territory, suggesting she come out to be the bride of his best friend who was opening a restaurant, it seemed like the perfect solution to her problems.

Tripp had gone to the best culinary school in the country, and he knew exactly how to create the perfect meal. He spent hours and hours coming up with just the right menu for his restaurant, only to be told he couldn’t get a loan for it unless he married. When his best friend came up with the solution of sending for his baker sister-in-law, it only made sense. Her ideas of the perfect menu were different than his, though. Would the two be able to stay together long enough to convince the bank he was a good risk? Would Sadie be able to convince Tripp that the two of them belonged together after all?

I give this book 3 stars (it was ok).

While I enjoyed the story, I felt like there were a lot of opportunities to be more emotionally invested in the story that were really missed. I would have liked to have seen or experienced more of Sadie’s thoughts and feelings in a way that would make me care more about whether Tripp wound up being a good guy or not, or whether their restaurant would survive. In the same vein, I would have liked some kind of conflict to arise that seemed to really stump them, or some setting that made their story memorable. If what you’re looking for is a lighthearted, quick read, this definitely fits the bill.


  • It was a quick and happy read.
  • The romance was sweet.
  • It was fun to have the two main characters both working in the realm of food.


  • I wish there had been more emotional connection.
  • I wish there had been some amount of conflict, some struggle to overcome that wasn’t just uncertainty on Sadie’s part or a temporary problem with an easy solution.
  • Sometimes it seemed like the timeline was questionable. As in how much time actually passed between chapters and sometimes even section-breaks.
  • I might have liked some more character development all-around.
  • Some of the dialogue felt unnatural.
  • It would have been nice to have some more setting description and a firmer idea of what time period this book took place in.


  • I felt like some of the technologies might have been anachronistic, but I didn’t stop to research to see if that was right or not–partially because of not knowing exactly when this book was set.
  • While mostly well punctuated and edited, there were times of confusion caused by pronoun use, as well as a few misspellings of Tripp’s name.
  • I felt like the part of the title “mail order bride” was a bit misleading, because it brings to mind ads for people seeking partners, not a personal set-up through family members–who happen to have corresponded by mail.

2 thoughts on “Review – The Chef’s Mail Order Bride by Cindy Caldwell

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