At Love's Bidding is the second in Regina Jennings' Ozark Mountains series. Though I've read one of her other books, Caught in the Middle, I hadn't read the first of this series, A Most Inconvenient Marriage. From what I can tell, there is little that you miss out on by starting with the second book. The main characters are different, though the setting remains the same and there is some character carry-over.
In At Love's Bidding, the Wimplegate family owns an auction house in Boston where an important painting is mistakenly sold. In order to appease the upset owner, Miranda Wimplegate and her grandfather promise to get it returned. Upon checking the records and seeing that the buyer had used a fake name, Miranda and her grandfather follow the only clue they have to Missouri, where the painting was to be shipped. Figuring that it must be headed to the only auction house in town, grandfather buys it sight-unseen. Unprepared, they discover when the arrive that what they have purchased is a livestock auction - nothing like the fine arts they were used to dealing in.
Dealing with her grandfathers progressing memory problems, searching for the missing painting, and learning to run a completely new type of auction, Miranda doesn't expect to become distracted by the livestock auction's manager. They're stubborn to admit their love because of the two very different worlds they come from.
When strangers appear in town, Miranda and her grandfather know their time is running short to recover the painting before someone else finds it. The future of their Boston auction house rests in the balance.
Fitting in to societal norms was a key theme, and familiar, as it was similar in that way to Caught in the Middle. Though slow-moving at times and a fanciful premise, overall it was an interesting and heartwarming story of love, compassion, and a little bit of mystery. Miranda has a lot of character growth from a timid girl who won't stand up for herself to a woman ready to take charge of her life. It happens at a reasonable pace and through specific situations where she is able to prove herself (scaring away a bully, standing up to her grandfather when he's being unreasonable, etc.).Other memorable characters, including young Betsy, who always speaks her mind and is always hanging around, add depth to the story. It's not just a romance, it's about all types of love and compassion, from Miranda teaching the street children in her spare time to helping her grandfather in his declining health instead of getting frustrated with him to of course her relationship with Wyatt and learning to follow her heart.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Book Look for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.