Holly & Ivy – the History

Holly & Ivy, my #HistoricalRomance novella in A #BouquetOfBrides, takes place in 1890, in Washington State. It’s about a young woman who accompanies her impetuous younger sister on her trip across the country to be a Christmas mail-order bride and is helped by a gallant stranger.

Like many people, I’m fascinated with the concept of mail-order brides. The idea of and use of finding a bride via the mail or advertisement gained popularity in the United States in the 1800s. A far larger number of men from the east traveled across the country to settle the west than women. This meant that finding a woman to marry for these men was severely limited. Unable to travel back to the east, men sent for brides. It might sound absurd at first glance, but women answered the call.

Being a romantic, I struggled with how marrying a person you hardly know could work with love and romance. What kind of a woman would choose to marry a man she’s never met? Traveling alone over such a vast distance could be dangerous for a woman in the 1800s with no guarantee her husband-to-be would be a good and kind man.

In addition to what would cause a woman to make a huge lifelong decision like this is the romance factor. I like romance before the wedding because I like the romance to lead up to the proposal and wedding. If they are already married, there isn’t a concrete goal to strive for. But it’s also fun to explore a couple falling in love after marriage.

This quandary sets my mind to work overtime coming up with possible scenarios. For this story, it’s not my main heroine, Holly, but her flighty sister, Ivy, who is the mail-order bride. Holly travels with her to talk her out of this nonsense. But her sister is unmoving in her position all the way across the country in spite of unsavory men bothering them. But when she meets her intended, her conviction waivers.

This is not the first nor the last mail-order bride story I hope to write. Cinda’s Surprise was the first. In her case, her friends corresponded with the prospective husband without her knowledge. Two others I hope to write in the future have heroines who are either trying to find and reclaim her children and the other wants to get out of a miserable situation and start anew.

In celebration of the release of Holly & Ivy, I’m giving away (US only) a print copy of A BOUQUET OF BRIDES Collection. To enter, subscribe to my newsletter and receive a free short story. I’ll be drawing for the book at the end of January.

Follow my blog at Mary’s Blog.


#ChristianRomance #HistoricalRomance #Romance

MARY DAVIS is an award-winning novelist of over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. She has four more titles releasing in 2018; Courting Her Amish Heart in March 2018, The Widow’s Plight in July 2018, Courting Her Secret Heart (Working Title) September 2018, & “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in MISSAdventure Brides Collection in December 2018. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.

Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty-three years and two cats. She has three adult children and one incredibly adorable grandchild. Find her online at:

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Published by Pegg Thomas

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. They raise sheep and chickens; keep a few barn cats, and Murphy the spoiled rotten dog. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” Pegg is published in the Barbour historical romance collections. Pegg also works as Publisher of Smitten Historical Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not working or writing, Pegg can be found in her barn, her garden, her kitchen, or sitting at her spinning wheel creating yarn to turn into her signature wool shawls. Pegg won the Romance Writers of America's Faith, Hope, & Love Award for 2019, was a finalist for the 2019 ACFW Editor of the Year, and a double finalist for the 2019 ACFW Carol Awards.

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