Clara Field and her Aunt Doreen Edgerly are headed for Oregon for a new start in life. Doreen married a very cruel man so she would be able to raise Clara after her parents were killed. She didn't know how bad a life she would have with that man and he detested Clara. Now it is Clara's turn to do something for her aunt, and that is to start over. It is unusual for a wagon train to take on a wagon with no man but there is a man who has agreed to help them in exchange for meals so they are headed for Oregon. Their wagon isn't the best and they have a very ornery oxen who likes to eat leather and wander off. These things cause a lot of delays for the wagon train and they eventually find themselves left behind to go the rest of the way on their own, two women on their own. They make it to Buttonwood, NE two days after the wagon train passed through.
They don't know what they are going to do when Josiah Reed, owner of the Buttonwood Feed and Dry Goods Store offers them a place to live in return for them taking care of his house and fixing meals along with helping out at the store when he needs help. Clara and Doreen have no choice but to take him up on his offer. Josiah has plans to leave town for a while after his son arrives to oversee things, this is where the bride bargain comes in, he wants Saul to stay in Buttonwood and not return to Baltimore. As a reward for getting Saul married to one of the five single girls in town (six counting herself, but she isn't including herself in the running, although Josiah is) then she and her aunt can have his house and he will build himself another one. It's rather interesting the way she tries to get Saul alone with all of the girls, especially since two of the families don't get along AT ALL.
This is a nice story and really kept me interested. Kelly did a good job and I'm looking forward to reading the next two books, The Bride Backfire and The Bride Blunder, knowing Kelly's books they'll be just as enjoyable as this one was.